Middle East

Jan 9, 2014

Blood brothers: the Sydney jihadists who took on Assad

A number of Australian Muslims have gone to Syria to fight against the Assad regime. Freelance Chris Ray, who recently returned from Syria, looks at the tale of two Sydney brothers.

Syria

Events in an obscure corner of war-ravaged Syria have raised questions about the roles of two Sydney brothers and Islamic preachers -- one living, the other dead -- who left their families and jobs in Australia to join the international jihad against the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Sheikh Fedaa al-Majzoub, a former vice-president of Australia’s National Imams Council, is an activist in the opposition Syrian National Council, a Muslim Brotherhood-dominated organisation based in Turkey. He has been a frequent visitor to rebel-held districts of northern Syria. The Syrian government last month accused him of being "responsible for" the kidnapping of more than 100 women and children during a rebel massacre of civilians in Latakia province in August 2013. Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi made the allegation at a briefing I attended in Damascus. He offered no evidence beyond alluding to Fedaa al-Majzoub’s alleged use of "Australian telephone networks" during the Latakia offensive. Fedaa al-Majzoub strongly denied playing any part, telling The Australian: "I heard about it, I know about it, but I was not involved in it at all." He said the civilian hostages were being held as bargaining chips in a prisoner swap. Human Rights Watch found that anti-government fighters killed at least 190 civilians and seized over 200 -- mostly women and children -- as hostages in a "co-ordinated, planned attack on the civilian population" of undefended villages inhabited by members of the minority Alawite sect. Human Rights Watch said the killings and hostage taking constituted "crimes against humanity". The attack was launched from Salma, a small, opposition-controlled town in Syria’s northwestern corner near the Turkish border. Fedaa’s younger brother Mustapha was killed there in a rocket attack a year earlier, and Fedaa presided over his funeral. Saudi Arabia-born Mustapha was president of the Islamic Awareness Association. The Australian reported he was "on the radar of security services as an extremist preacher" but his family and Islamic community spokesmen insisted he had been killed while engaged in unspecified "humanitarian and charity work". Suggestions Mustapha was involved in combat were "far fetched", said Islamic Friendship Association of Australia spokesman Keysar Trad, who added: "A man of the cloth whose mission in life is to bring peace to those around him and attend to their spiritual needs was mercilessly killed by the dying Assad regime." Statements and Facebook posts by Mustapha himself and others suggest he was of a more martial disposition.

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5 comments

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5 thoughts on “Blood brothers: the Sydney jihadists who took on Assad

  1. David Penington

    Pay no attention to the disgraceful Keysar Trad. A NSW supreme court judge ruled that he was disgraceful – see http://skepticlawyer.com.au/2009/08/03/no-tell-us-what-you-really-think/ The judge said “those views are not acceptable to the general Australian community and I am satisfied that a person who holds them and, more particularly who encourages others to share those views, may be described as a disgraceful individual.”

  2. James

    I hope that any Australian shown to be fighting in Syria has their passport revoked. Islamic extremists have no place being in Australia.

  3. AR

    Interesting how the SMH periodically lauds Oz born young men of generationally Oz born jewish families who go to Israel to serve two years in the IDF. Does A/G Brandis propose making their military involvement illegal and grounds for citizenship revocation as he suggested re the Syrian jihadis?

  4. Melanie Brown

    James if Islamic extremists have no place being in Australia, why would you revoke their passports? Then they would be stuck in Australia – let them leave!

  5. Jo

    As an Australian of Syrian Descent, I am disgusted to see these Australian men (Often with no-Syrian background) going to Syria. For everyone (All MSM) who have defended their jihad in Syria as that of “Humanitarian Aid” – please advise their humanitiarian credentials….What charity work did they do in Australia? Was their charity extended to anyone outside of their community or only those who share their belief system. My relatives (that are still in Syria) are suffering greatly because of these terrorists who are committing unheard of atrocities against indigenous Syrians (including some of the worlds first Christian communities). Australia, wake up, these people have no more allegiance to Australia as they do to Syria – there only allegiance is to their extremist interpretation of Islam. Wake up Australia.

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