Hoax fools wannabe jihadis

Lure of jihad: Islamic State fighters in Iraq. Picture: AP

An internet impostor has fooled dozens of followers of radical hate preacher Junaid Thorne into revealing their thirst for violence against Australian-based targets including newspaper cartoonists, Jewish groups and other innocent civilians.

Security agencies are now reviewing material gathered by the anonymous impostor who set up a fake Twitter account pretending to be Thorne this month.

Within days more than 160 people had followed the account and many discussed openly with the impostor the idea of bombing Jewish organisations based in Sydney, as well as threats to carry out Charlie Hebdo-style attacks on cartoonists Larry Pickering and Bill Leak.

Both men drew cartoons featuring the prophet Mohammed after the attack on the French satirical newspaper in January which left 12 people dead including cartoonists, journalists and police officers.

In one exchange with a Thorne follower, the impostor asked whether the individual was planning to kill Leak and Pickering.

The follower, who goes by the Twitter name IslamicStateAU, replied that they knew where the two men lived and said their addresses had been passed on to "some brothers" who would carry out the attack.

"It will be a repeat of Charlie Hebdo," the follower said.

In other discussions, followers declared their support for Sydney's deadly Lindt Chocolate Cafe siege by Islamic State supporter Man Haron Monis in December.

"The Lindt cafe operation was just the beginning. We will conquer Australia," a follower calling himself Hassan Ali IS told the fake Thorne.

Another follower, calling himself Akhi AlAustralia, said he was saving up his money to leave Australia and join Islamic State.

When the real Thorne became aware of the fake account early this week, he posted a warning on his Facebook page telling followers not to communicate with the person behind the account.

But new followers were still being attracted to the fake site yesterday.

The impostor - who claims he is in America - declined to reveal his identity to _The Weekend West _, saying he was concerned for his safety.

All material provided by the man to the newspaper was forwarded on his behalf to relevant authorities as soon as it was received. What evidentiary value it provides remains to be seen because many of the threats may be just cyber chest puffing.

But the fake account has exposed the deep hatred many of Thorne's followers harbour towards non-Muslim Australians.

Thorne's real Twitter account was suspended in February because of his radical views.

He has now opened a new account in a bid to direct his followers away from the hoax.

Anyone with information can call the National Security Hotline on 1800 123 400.

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