A teenager pictured alongside Islamic State group fighters and dubbed “Britain’s white jihadi” has been identified as an Australian national who converted to Islam, the Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported, citing a report Monday. The image had emerged on Twitter in late December, and the high-school dropout's recruitment was hailed by the militant group as a "major coup."
The Australian has been identified as an 18-year-old student called Jake, according to Australia’s Fairfax Media, which added that the teenager’s full name was not revealed at the request of his family. A blogger had reportedly claimed, in December, that he had fabricated the image that emerged on the social networking site to hoax the British media, giving rise to doubts about the picture’s authenticity. However, the boy has now been identified by his friends and members of two Melbourne mosques, AFP reported, citing Fairfax Media.
Jake reportedly attended the Craigieburn Secondary College in Melbourne and began visiting online forums where he met an ISIS recruiter who encouraged him to join the group’s fight against the West. The teenager then dropped out of school last year and headed to Syria to join ISIS. The local newspaper reportedly claimed that the boy now goes by the names, Abdur Raheem or Abu Abdullah. The identification of the Australian teenager comes a day after authorities stopped two teenage brothers, suspected of heading to the Middle East to join ISIS, at Sydney's international airport.
"These two young men aged 16 and 17 are kids, not killers, and they shouldn't be allowed to go to a foreign land to fight then come back to our land eventually more radicalized," Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said on Sunday, according to BBC.
Australia estimates that nearly 140 of its citizens are fighting alongside the militant group in Iraq and Syria, while another 150 citizens were believed to be supporting the militant group from within Australia. In December, the Australian government announced that it had imposed a ban on travel to the Syrian province of Raqqa. More recently, in March, the country banned travel to the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, which is currently controlled by the Islamic State group.
"Too many Australians, it seems, are being brainwashed online by this death cult," Prime Minister Tony Abbott reportedly said, referring to ISIS. "Very importantly, we are about to begin a very big campaign to try to counter the influence that the death cult has, particularly online on vulnerable Australians."