8 Dec 2015

NZ women going to IS areas - SIS

8:17 pm on 8 December 2015

New Zealand is seeing a rise in the number of women travelling to areas controlled by Islamic State (IS) in the Middle East, the director of the SIS says.

Rebecca Kitteridge, Director of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service.

SIS director Rebecca Kitteridge said the trend was a "real concern". Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Rebecca Kitteridge, who was speaking to Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee this afternoon, would not provide specific numbers.

Prime Minister John Key, who chairs the committee, asked if some of the women could be jihadi brides.

Ms Kitteridge told the committee it was a trend that had developed recently.

"Something that has changed over the last year is the issue of New Zealand women travelling to Iraq and Syria, which is something we haven't seen previously or been aware of," she said.

"It's difficult to see what they do when they go. We definitely do have intelligence that they went. Whether they are going to fight or whether they are going to support other fighters is not clear."

Ms Kitteridge told MPs the trend was a "real concern".

After the committee, she told reporters it was a "small number... less than a dozen".

She said radicalised people got "very excited" when they saw any kind of attack such as the ones in Paris. She said she would not comment whether the women were "jihadi brides".

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs