Father fears for son who joined Islamic State

Muhammed Sheglabo's family have been left shaken and heartbroken by his decision to join the terror group. Photo: Twitter

Muhammed Sheglabo's father stands in the driveway outside his modest suburban home, fighting back tears as he searches for the words to describe the pain he and his family are feeling.

"His mother has not stopped crying since we learnt of this news," he said. "I have told her we need to forget about him now.

"He has left us. But inside, my heart is breaking."

The loving father had hoped his eldest son - who he described as a bright and friendly young man - would one day become a successful businessman.

But instead, the 23-year-old has traded his university studies for a career in violent jihad under the tutelage of the Islamic State and its murderous commanders.

"He was always a good boy who liked soccer, going to the gym, seeing his friends," the father said. "Sometimes they (your children) hide things from you that you could not even imagine."

Sheglabo's father agreed to speak to _The Weekend West _on the condition that his first name and any details about where he and his family live were not revealed.

He fears they could now become the target of anti-Muslim hate groups and he wanted to make it clear that he in no way supported what his son had done.

But the father was also careful not to condemn his son too strongly, fearing that speaking out against the Islamic State could result in reprisals against his family from the group's supporters here in Perth.

When the family migrated from Libya in late 2010, the father said he had hoped his children would benefit from good schools and universities.

Sheglabo's marks got him into a biochemistry course at Murdoch. But after two years, he switched to economics.

As far as his family were aware, everything in his life was proceeding as normal.

Their only worries related to the usual temptations that can concern most Australian parents - alcohol, drugs and girls.

Never in their wildest dreams did they believe their son would fall under the spell of radical Islam while living in Australia.

Exactly how Sheglabo started on the slippery slope towards extremism is not entirely clear but his links to radical hate preacher Junaid Thorne cannot be ignored.

The father said he remembered his son bringing Thorne to their home around mid-last year.

It was around that time Sheglabo also started to become more secretive about his private life.

His parents and siblings were not allowed to be friends with him on Facebook and he often would not tell them where he was going or who he was seeing when he went out at night.

He was also spending a lot of time at the gym and training in martial arts.

But when he told his family last month that he was going camping for a few days, his parents suspected nothing was afoot.

That was the last time they saw their son. As the days passed without any contact, they decided to call police.

Police eventually got back to them to inform them that he had left the country but his final destination was still unknown.

Then, early last week, police knocked at their door with the news that would turn their world on its head.

They were shown Sheglabo's newly set up Twitter page, which boasted proudly of his arrival in Iraq, along with the images of him ready to do battle.

The area where he is based - Al-Furat province - was captured by Islamic State last year and is ruled by the group with an iron and bloody fist.

Sheglabo's parents are well aware of the atrocities the group has become synonymous with, including beheadings, public burnings and the rape and enslavement of their enemies. All the family can do is hope that their son does not get involved in such barbarity. And they also hope that he is still alive but have no way of knowing for sure.

In one of the last messages that Sheglabo posted on his Twitter feed a fortnight ago, he appeared to be getting ready for battle, asking God to grant him victory and his friends to pray for him.

'Sometimes they (your children) hide things from you that you could not even imagine.'" *Muhammed * *Sheglabo's father *

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