Former Sydney cleric Mostafa Mahamed, aka Abu Sulayman has been a highly visible member of al-Qaeda since travelling to Syria in 2012.
Former Sydney cleric Mostafa Mahamed, aka Abu Sulayman has been a highly visible member of al-Qaeda since travelling to Syria in 2012. Al Jazeera/YouTube

Australian jihadist: 'How I became an Al-Qaeda terrorist'

AUSTRALIA'S most senior Islamic terrorist has revealed his path to extremism and what sparked his decision to join al-Qaeda and rise through the terror organisation's ranks.

Mostafa Mahamed, who also goes by the name Abu Salayman Australi, claims his decision to join al-Qaeda was prompted by Australian authorities who had his passport cancelled when he travelled Syria in 2012.

Despite becoming prominent within the group and appearing in promotional online videos encouraging other westerners to join, Mahamed claims in a new YouTube video he did not initially intend to join the group.

"It's important to clarify that from the beginning I didn't come up to join up for AQ Syria branch," he said in the clip published over the weekend.

"I joined after my passport was cancelled by the Australian authorities."

 

Mahamed is frequently featured in Jabhat al-Nusra and al-Qaeda promotional videos.
Mahamed is frequently featured in Jabhat al-Nusra and al-Qaeda promotional videos. Twitter

The terrorist claimed he was placed in a "very difficult situation", and made the decision after discovering he could not return to Australia.

"My family back home received a letter saying that my passport was cancelled and I was no longer in a position to travel with my Australian documents," he said.

"I had to made a decision as to what I was going to do then. It wasn't possible to just pick up and leave."

Mahamed claimed he was given an "opportunity to perform an obligation" that he encouraged all other Muslims to do.

The Egyptian-born extremist has previously called for Muslims to defy Western nations and support the extremist cause, and appears to be sending the same message in this latest clip.

"I was given an opportunity I still believe is important to realise for every Muslim that it is obligatory when faced with a situation to offer your services to the weak, to the oppressed, that you take up that opportunity," he said.

The former Sydney resident, a known radical speaker when he lived in Australia, joined al-Qaeda's Syrian branch Jabhat al-Nusra, which last year changed its name to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.

He said he "shopped around" when deciding which extremist group to join, and found Jabhat al-Nusra "the most organised and most accommodating group to foreigners".

He quickly rose to become a top official in the group and was the most prominent English-speaking identity in the group, used in YouTube videos to recruit westerners and promote its messages.

It was reported last year he quit Jabhat Fateh al-Sham over his dissatisfaction in its merging with Islamic State-linked extremist group Jund al-Aqsa. He said he would "pursue projects independently" and remain a jihadi.

The message comes amid a bipartisan push in Canberra to protect young Australians from extremist material online.

The government is putting pressure on major tech companies Facebook, Twitter and Google to crack down on terror-related activity online.

Greater use of social media by terrorist groups has prompted the Turnbull government to seek changes to the law to allow authorities to decrypt protected communications.

Both sides of politics are expected to continue to push tech leaders to take responsibility when parliament sits today.

Meanwhile, an audio clip has been distributed by Islamic State to launch attacks in Australia during the holy month of Ramadan.

The message was sent to followers via encrypted messaging app Telegram.

Reportedly spoken by the terror group's spokesman Abi al-Hassan al Muhajer, the recording named Australia among other locations including Europe, America and Russia.

News Corp Australia


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