Court told of Aishah’s handwritten note to join Syrian ‘jihad’

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KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court today was told of a handwritten note in one of the books the police confiscated from Siti Noor Aishah Atam, in which she expressed a longing to join the war in Syria.

Deputy public prosecutor Mohamad Mustaffa P. Kunyalam raised the matter to cast doubt on a claim by Aishah, who is being charged over links with militant groups, that she was unaware of the books’ contents.

Mustaffa told the court that the note had been found in “Merentas Jalan Jihad Fisabilillah”, one of 12 books containing militant propaganda which were found in her possession.

“In fact, in a book titled ‘Merentas Jalan Jihad Fisabilillah’, there is a handwritten note by Aishah which stated the desire to join the jihad, and to go to Sham,” he said.

Sham is a general reference to modern-day Syria.

“Aishah wrote, ‘… I really miss the land of Sham which you have blessed, because that is where Islam will prevail’,” said Mustaffa.

He questioned Aishah’s defence that the books were meant to assist her Masters programme at Universiti Malaya (UM), saying checks with UM showed otherwise.

“There is no record of her continuing her studies at Universiti Malaya, and her thesis title was not even registered,” he said.

Mustaffa added that Aishah’s credibility was questionable as her own father, Atam Jusoh, had lodged a police report against her, out of fear that his daughter might be planning to join militants in Syria.

Judge Mohamad Shariff Abu Samah set May 2 for a decision on whether Aishah was guilty under Section 130JB of the Penal Code and the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma), for having in her possession 12 books promoting militant ideas.

Aishah’s counsel Mohd Kamaruzaman Abd Wahab earlier told the court that she was innocent and that the books were for research purposes.

“Aishah attended her classes and completed her first semester, but she couldn’t continue with the second semester as she didn’t have enough money. So she worked to pay for her studies.

He said as such, Aishah was not aware of the contents of the 12 books.

Kamaruzaman said the court would require three experts to determine if the books indeed promoted terrorism.

“The public out there, how do they know if these books are linked to terrorism or not?

“She must know that possessing the books are an offence, but in this case, she clearly didn’t,” said Kamaruzaman, adding that Aishah had not read all of the 12 books.

He further added that the books were not banned by the government and were available locally.

Aishah today appeared in the dock wearing a grey baju kurung.

The 29-year-old was first arrested in March last year, under Section 130JB of the Penal Code and Sosma.

A month later, she was charged in the Kuala Lumpur High Court. She pleaded not guilty, saying the books were for her master’s degree in Islamic Studies.

The High Court acquitted and released her, but on the same day, Aishah, the first of five siblings, was re-arrested under the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (Poca) and detained for another 60 days.

Upon her release, she was placed under house arrest. Last month, she was again arrested under Sosma, and is currently detained at Kajang Prison.