AUTHORITIES are trying to confirm reports that Australia’s most senior Islamic State leader, Mohammad Ali Baryalei, has been killed. The fugitive Australian terrorist and ISIS recruiter, who allegedly masterminded a foiled plot to kill a random member of the public in Sydney, was believed to be in Syria.
The Australian (h/t Eric M) Reports of the death emerged as the Senate overwhelmingly endorsed new criminal sanctions against Australian terrorists, giving authorities the power to arrest and charge suspects who travel to conflict zones.
Abdul Salam Mahmoud, an activist from Street Dawah Australia purportedly in Syria, last night wrote on Facebook that Baryalei had been “martyred”.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop could not confirm the death “at this stage” as agencies were working to verify the reports. “It does highlight what the government has been saying, that Australians who leave this country to fight in Iraq and Syria are putting themselves in mortal danger; they have a great risk of being killed,” Ms Bishop told the National Press Club in Canberra. (You say that as if it were a BAD thing)
News of the death was also tweeted about 11 hours ago by a British-based researcher Shiraz Maher, from the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at Kings College in London.
There are reports that, Mohammad Ali Baryalei, an Australian member of Islamic State has been killed in Syria.
— Shiraz Maher (@ShirazMaher) October 28, 2014
Abdul Salam Mahmoud, also known as Yassin Ali, wrote on Facebook: “I’ve just received the news that our beloved brother Mohamed Ali who was recently strongly attacked by Australian media has been martyred. He was a brother a friend and our leader in street dawah Sydney.”
Baryalei was believed to have been holed up in the Syrian city of Raqqa, the stronghold of the terror group and the “capital” of its self-declared caliphate.
As reported by The Australian, Baryalei initially travelled to Syria with Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qa’ida’s official affiliate in Syria and Islamic State’s rival. Baryalei was initially close to fellow Australian Abu Sulyaman, one of Jabhat al-Nusra’s top officials. He soon defected to Islamic State, where he went on to become one of the most senior Australians to fight among the Syrian jihadists.