Afghanistan: Kerry Jane Wilson, empowering women for 2 decades, abducted in Jalalabad Print E-mail
 Friday April 29 2016

Australian aid worker kidnapped in Afghanistan


MATT WORDSWORTH, PRESENTER: For the past 20 years, an unsung Australian hero, Kerry Jane Wilson, has been dedicated to the most dangerous of missions, empowering women to make their own way in life in war-torn Afghanistan in direct opposition to the edicts of the Taliban.

Yesterday the 60 year old aid worker was kidnapped from her work compound in Afghanistan's east amidst an escalating security crisis in the country.

Local authorities are questioning Kerry Jane Wilson's employees about their involvement. The fear is she could be transported to Pakistan, where hostages are often held for years for ransom or used as leverage for a prisoner exchange.

Sean Rubinsztein-Dunlop reports.

PROMOTIONAL VIDEO: Zardozi trains Afghan women and sells their fabulous products here in Kabul. With the money, refugee women send their children to school and feed their families.

BRIAN WILSON, FATHER: For the past 20 years, she's been running her own NGO, which empowers women. It tries to get women out of the home, virtually incognito, as it were, and to get outside and to learn to do business. This means getting the husbands online, showing them how exactly to handle money, to bargain with men, and to carry out small business. This, of course, is not very popular with Taliban, which doesn't see the role of women doing that sort of thing.

SEAN RUBINSZTEIN-DUNLOP, REPORTER: Kerry Jane Wilson has earned a reputation in Afghanistan as a fearless and humble local hero. Her dedication landed her in deep strife yesterday on a visit to her offices in Jalalabad in Afghanistan's troubled east.

TONY LOUGHRAN, SECURITY CONSULTANT: She was operating within her own particular compound. A group of people came in dressed in military garb, combats, which is not unusual for Afghanistan. And they literally walked in there as if they were military, and allegedly took her.

SEAN RUBINSZTEIN-DUNLOP: Kerry Jane Wilson was due to leave Afghanistan today to visit her father in Perth. Instead, he got the call he'd always feared.

BRIAN WILSON: The Department of Foreign Affairs phoned me up and told me, and said they'd keep me in touch. But they knew no more than I did. All they knew was that she'd been kidnapped. I presume that, if she's going to be a hostage that it would be in a bargain, as it were, for something rather going to happen. We don't yet know what their demand will be, but presumably you don't harm a hostage, because a dead one is no good at all.

REPORTER I: Do you know about her welfare?

JULIE BISHOP, FOREIGN MINISTER: That is our priority to ensure that she is well, that she's being treated well, and so that's what we're focusing our efforts upon, working with the local authorities and our embassy in Kabul, of course, is deeply involved in this matter.

REPORTER II: Do you categorically rule out paying a ransom?

JULIE BISHOP: The Australian Government does not, as a matter of policy, pay ransoms for kidnappers.

TONY LOUGHRAN: You can't rule out the possibility of money being demanded. Obviously money talks in certain places like that.

SEAN RUBINSZTEIN-DUNLOP: Last week, a Taliban attack on a high-security intelligence compound in Kabul, one of the deadliest in their 15 year insurgency, stoked fears of a deteriorating security situation.

Crisis consultant Tony Loughran, who regularly works in Afghanistan, believes the Taliban or local criminals are behind the kidnapping of Kerry Jane Wilson.

TONY LOUGHRAN: The groups that could be behind the kidnapping, OK, are regional kind of crime consortiums. They're actually in it themselves; they can move people around quite quickly. They know for a fact they can get money from individuals.

It is an increasing business within Kabul, and within Afghanistan in particular. So these are the things that we need to kind of safeguard against. Again, you've also got the actual Taliban element as well, that would see this as a great opportunity for not only a PR stunt, as well to see where they can get saturated media coverage, but also for the actual ransom itself if there is a payment being made.

SEAN RUBINSZTEIN-DUNLOP: Only a year ago, Kerry Jane Wilson made a plea for money to help the women of Afghanistan.

KERRY JANE WILSON (PROMOTIONAL VIDEO): We need your help. For the trade fairs, for training more women, and to buy a vehicle that doesn't use so much oil and doesn't break down in the middle of the road.

SEAN RUBINSZTEIN-DUNLOP: Kerry Jane Wilson's 4th is now calling on her to maintain the resilience she's become known for.

BRIAN WILSON: Jane, do your level best and come back safe and sound.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Sean Rubinsztein-Dunlop reporting.
Friday April 29 2016

8 suspects detained for abduction of foreign woman

By Zeerak Fahim

JALALABAD (Pajhwok): Eight men were arrested by police on charge of their involvement in the kidnapping of an Australian female employee of a Non-governmental Organization (NGO), in eastern Nangarhar province, an official said on Friday.

Attaullah Khogyani, the governor’s spokesman, had told Pajhwok Afghan News the abducted employee had come from Kabul to Jalalabad, the provincial capital, and stayed at Spinghar Hotel. The woman was abducted on Thursday morning from the local office in the 4th municipality district of Jalalabad.

Eight employees of the tailoring and embroidery office were held by police on charge of being involved in the abduction of the Australian lady, Khogyani said adding police have been interrogating from the detainees.