Senior Australian Isis member Mohammad Ali Baryalei 'killed in Syria'

Baryalei is believed to have recruited felllow Australians to join Isis

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The Independent Online

The Australian government is attempting to confirm reports that a citizen who became a senior member of the Isis has been killed in Syria.

From his trusted position, Mohammad Ali, 33, is understood to have recruited at least 30 of the 60 Australians currently fighting with the extremist group calling itself the Islamic State (IS), and facilitated the passage of those volunteers on the border between Turkey and Syria, ABC News reported.

He was also accused of plotting so-called “demonstration killings” in the city of Sydney and Brisbane, in which random members of the public would have been beheaded. The Australian government has since issued a warrant for Mr Baryalei's arrest.

A friend of Mr Baryalei's from Sydney who is currently living in Syria posted on Facebook on Tuesday that the jihadist had been “martyred”, and ABC news has been told he died four of five days ago.

“I've just received the news that our beloved brother Mohammad Ali who was recently strongly attacked by Australian media has been martyred,” the post reportedly said according to BBC News.

 

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the government was seeking to verify the reports, and if reports were true officials would be “unrelenting” in tracking who he had been in contact with and where he had been in the Middle East.

“I can't confirm it at this stage,” she told reporters at an event in Canberra.

Last month, intercepted phone call involving Mr Baryalei led to Australia’s biggest ever counter-terrorism raids where over 800 police officers stormed homes in Sydney and Brisbane. Four people were subsequently charged.

Before becoming radicalised, Mr Baryalei was a part-time actor who worked as a tout at a strip club in Sydney and used cocaine. In 2009, Baryalei was unemployed, severely depressed and suicidal when he turned to Islam and developed extremist beliefs.

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A counter-terrorism expert told ABC that she predicts Mr Baryalei's death will be used as a tool to recruit more IS fighters.

“The way that the narrative of ISIS works is that those that die in battle are immediately called martyrs,” Curtin University's Anne Aly said.

“His story, somebody who was into drugs, and into the hard life, who then became a born-again Muslim if you like, rose up the ranks of ISIS and then died as a martyr. This will be used by ISIS to recruit more people.”

The reports come as US-led coalition forces attack against IS in Iraq and Syria.

Today British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond admitted that it will “take time” for IS to be pushed back in northern Syria.

He told the House of Commons on that air strikes will continue to contain and degrade IS while the Syrian opposition is trained.

He added the UK remains “constantly open” to extra requests from the Kurdish peshmerga.

The UK has delivered 300 tonnes of supplies to Erbil, the capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, of which 100 tonnes were weapons and equipment from the UK itself, MPs heard.

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