New Zealand's Muslim community is calling for proof that Kiwi women are travelling to Syria and Iraq to support ISIS as jihadi brides and says it's shocked at the claim by a spy chief.
The Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand says it hasn't seen any evidence that the women are jihadi brides, although the Security Intelligence Service director, Rebecca Kitteridge, says that's presumably the reason they're going.
"They will pose a significant threat if they return to New Zealand or travel to other countries," Ms Kitteridge told Parliament's intelligence and security committee yesterday.
It comes as news to the local Muslim community.
"We still need to engage with the Government to see more evidence of what Ms Kitteridge has delivered in her report. 'Till now we're still in shock," Hazim Aratham, Federation of Islamic Associations president told ONE News.
And the president of the National Islamic Women's Council, Anjum Rahman, says without any any real evidence, Ms Kitteridge's comments are unhelpful.
"We all get tarred with this and people begin to view all of us with suspicion. And in an environment that is already reasonably hostile this doesn't help matters much at all," Ms Rahman said.
New security legislation introduced last year gave the Government greater power to cancel passports, but to date no passports for women have been cancelled.
"Any passports that have been cancelled have been cancelled because people pose a threat to national security or who are going to engage in terrorist activities. Marriage doesn't usually come into that category," said Peter Dunne, Internal Affairs Minister.
Mr Aratham says the number of extremists is less than a handful and he's in regular contact with government officials over monitoring.
"We are trying to engage with them to make sure that they are religiously well informed because the common factor with all the people that are being targeted by radicals is that they are misinformed," he said.
The SIS has confirmed fewer than a dozen Kiwi women have travelled to support ISIS.