A Sydney-raised senior terrorist’s latest YouTube interview has revealed he joined al-Qaeda in Syria because his Australian passport was cancelled.
Mostafa Mahamed, also known as Abu Salayman Australi, has attracted thousands of viewers on YouTube videos by OGN TV for a series called ‘Face The Truth’.
While there’s new controversy surrounding tech giants allowing violent extremism propaganda to appear on their websites, Mahamed has participated in the month-long YouTube series, explaining his situation.
The 33-year Egyptian-born extremist, who is on a US kill list, is regarded by Islamist extremists as a useful recruitment tool for Westerners because he can speak English.
He tells Muslim-convert American war-zone journalist Bilal Abdul Kareem he joined Jabhat al-Nusra, an affiliate of al-Qaeda which is banned in Australia, because he could no longer travel on an Australian passport.
'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 video.
Asked why he didn't leave Syria, Mahamed said he felt he didn’t have any options left after his passport was cancelled, 40 days after he left Australia.
'I joined after my passport was cancelled by the Australian authorities,' he said.
'I found, after I shopped around and I visited many other groups in Syria, that the most organised and most accommodating to foreigners was Jabhat al-Nusra (now known as Jabhat Fatah al-Sham).
“I was in a very difficult situation… it wasn’t possible just to pick up and leave. I was given an opportunity to perform an obligation that I still believe is extremely 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.”
Mahamed claims he quit the terror group last year to operate independently.
He has been declared a “specially designated global terrorist”.
Mahamed went on to describe a meeting with the “top leaders of Jabhat al-Nusra — the head honchos”.
He agreed to join the group after being told they did not kill innocent civilians.
The Islamic preacher recently said he condemned the killing of innocent civilians, mentioning last week’s attacks in Melbourne and London and the September 11, 2001, explaining they could not be justified.
However, he celebrated the anniversary of the World Trade Centre attack on Twitter in 2014.
“On this day, in 2001, the USA’s largest economic shrine, the idol of capitalism, was brought to the ground. The toll of injustice (sic) is hefty,” he wrote on Twitter in 2014.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will tell parliament today that Attorney-General, George Brandis, will travel to Canada this month to meet with his counterparts in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing community, The Australian reports.
Mr Brandis will investigate what more can be done “among our like-minded nations and with the communications and technology industry, to ensure terrorists and organised criminals are not able to operate with impunity within ungoverned digital spaces”.
The Opposition Leader describes the fight against terrorism as a “21st-century conflict”, being “fought online as well as in the streets”, and says tech companies “have the resources and the capacity to do more”.