KOTA KINABALU • The whereabouts of the Sabahan wife of one of the most notorious South-east Asian terrorists, Riduan Isamuddin, also known as Hambali, remain a mystery after her release from detention 16 years ago.
Residents in Beluran, a district about 300km from Sabah state capital Kota Kinabalu, said they had not seen Noraliza Abdullah @ Lee Yin Len since her release, although some claimed she returned briefly to visit her mother Salmah Abdullah, who died a few years ago.
After Hambali's capture in 2003, Noraliza was detained by police under the Internal Security Act for what is believed to be two years.
Regional intelligence sources say she is likely to be in Indonesia with relatives of her husband.
Also missing since Hambali's arrest in 2003 is Noraliza's sister Noral Fadilah @ Lee Ah Lin, who was married to Abu Yusuf @ Dandang Surman, another leader of the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) terror group.
Noraliza had gone to a religious school, Luqmanul Hakim, in Ulu Tiram, Johor, after a group of Indonesian religious teachers came to Beluran and offered to sponsor her studies there. The school was shut down by Malaysian police after it was found to be involved with JI operatives.
Hambali was one of three people now in detention in Guantanamo Bay who were formally indicted in the United States over their role in the 2002 Bali bombings and 2003 Jakarta attack, the Pentagon said on Thursday.
Dubbed the "Osama bin Laden of South-east Asia" by the US Central Intelligence Agency, Hambali was the leader of JI and believed to have been Al-Qaeda's top representative in the region.
In an interview with The Star daily after the arrest of her daughter Noraliza in 2003, Madam Salmah described Hambali as the "perfect son-in-law" and was shocked to hear of his involvement in terror activities. He married Noraliza after they met in Johor.
Madam Salmah described Hambali as a simple, caring and religious son-in-law who liked ketam bakar (baked crabs) during the interview.
Hambali was widely suspected to use visits to his wife's family district close to Sandakan to make clandestine trips to southern Philippines and Indonesia.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK