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Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop announce the successful recovery, identification and repatriation of the 38 bodies.
A coffin of a person who died on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 is moved at Eindhoven airbase, the Netherlands. Photograph: Rex
Australian Associated Press.
All 38 Australians who died when Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was downed in eastern Ukraine have been formally identified, the federal government says.
Operation Bring Them Home will conclude in the coming weeks when the final remains of the victims are reunited with their families, after Dutch authorities confirmed the identities of the victims.
The prime minister, Tony Abbott, and the foreign minister, Julie Bishop, said in a joint statement on Saturday the victims of the tragedy had finally been accorded the dignity and respect they deserved.
“The successful recovery, identification and repatriation of the victims has been a painstaking and meticulous process,” the statement said. “It has been a tremendously difficult period for the families and for all Australians.
“After such a long wait, we can now be assured that the Australian victims have been accorded the dignity and respect they deserve.”
The Australian and Dutch governments continue to press for full implementation of United Nations security council resolution 2166, which was adopted in July and supports an independent investigation into the disaster.
The Dutch Safety Board and the Dutch Public Prosecution Service are also investigating.
MH17 went down in July in rebellion-torn eastern Ukraine killing all 298 aboard, including 38 Australians. It was believed to have been hit by a surface-to-air missile.
In November the international investigation into the downing of MH17 was extended by nine months, after the Dutch-led efforts to find out who shot down the passenger plane were hampered by the ongoing civil war and Russian intransigence.
Investigators will now have until August 2015 under a deal struck between Australia, the Netherlands, Ukraine and other nations.
Pictured: The high school student, 17, who left #Sydney to join #ISIS terrorists in #Syria with his three brothers… two have been labelled ‘too fat to fight’
- Four brothers from Sydney’s south-west left Australia to fight in Syria.
- Two of the boys are over 140kg and described as ‘unfit’ and ‘obese’.
- Dr Jamal Rifi said the boys will not make good foot soldiers.
- He believes they will be probably be used for propaganda videos.
- The boy’s mother first received text that they were in the Middle East she thought it was a joke.
Scroll down for video.
Taha El Baf, 17, from Yagoona, and his three older brothers flew to Syria to join the Islamic State last month.
Pictures have emerged of the youngest of four Western Sydney brothers who fled to Syria to fight for the Islamic State.
Taha El Baf, 17, and his older siblings – two of whom weigh over 140kg and have been described as too unfit to be terrorist fighters – flew via Turkey to join the extremist group last month.
El Baf, who was in his final year of high school at Birrong Boys High School before he fled his family home in Yagoona, was a promising student and played for a local rugby league team, the Daily Telegraph reported.
The 17-year-old also appeared in a school anti-bullying video which was posted to YouTube last year.
Young ISIS recruit Taha El Baf appears in anti-bullying video.
The teen’s father said he wanted El Baf and his brothers, aged 23, 25 and 28 to come home.
‘I wouldn’t have taken them to the airport if I knew they would do this,’ he told the Telegraph.
The father added that one brother had left his wife and another left his fiancée and a job at Roads and Maritime Services (RMS).
Last month, leading Islamic community leader Dr Jamal Rifi said two of the four Sydney brothers are ‘obese’ and may be snubbed by fellow terrorists if they eat all their rations.
More Australians have slipped through the cracks and fled overseas to join the fight with Islamic State.
Dr Rifi said the men would not make good foot soldiers for the terror group, and believes they will be used for propaganda videos instead.
When the brothers sent their shocked mother a one line text message saying they had arrived safely in Syria last month, she thought it was a cruel joke.
The message read: ‘We made it to Bilad al-Sham, we will see you in Paradise.’
One of the brothers had initially told his mother that he had won four tickets to Thailand and he was going to take his brothers with him.
Dr Rifi told radio station 2UE: ‘The family is distraught, their main concern is to initiate contact, the family are not concerned how they were radicalised but that they want them to come back.
Authorities argue they need more tools to monitor suspects and prevent them from being radicalised.
‘We are hoping the fact that because two of them are quite obese that they will not make good foot soldiers, they are over 140kg.
‘People are going to realise what are we going to do with them? Are they going to eat all the food and you can’t even run on the field.’
Dr Rifi said the family was trying to get messages to the brothers but they had not responded and had probably had their mobile phones confiscated by IS.
He explained the family had given all the information to the authorities who were trying to ‘put the pieces of the puzzle together’.
Their mother is of Lebanese descent and their father is a taxi driver, they also have another brother and sister living at home.
Dr Rifi added they were ‘simple boys’ who could not organise trip properly, and he revealed they had missed the first flight they had booked and had to re-book one for the next day.
He said: ‘They have no life experience. They (the parents) had no idea that their kids were planning such a move, these are ordinary kids who live at home, they showed no sign of radicalisation.’
The fifth son went to meet a flight that was coming in from Thailand last month, hoping it was a joke.
Many foreign fighters have already left the country including Mohamed Elomar (pictured).
Dr Rifi said the family had alerted the authorities to the brothers’ departure and it was now up to them to ‘put the pieces of the puzzle together’.
It emerged on Saturday authorities had tracked the brothers – who lived in south-west Sydney – as far as Turkey and alerted the family last week.
Australian Federal Police commissioner Neil Gaughan told a parliamentary committee that the group of four that managed to leave the country this week were ‘not on anyone’s radar’, The Guardian reported.
‘We got wind of it after the fact, but the fact is there are still people travelling,’ said Gaughan, the national manager of counter-terrorism for the Australian Federal Police,’ he said.
Khaled Sharrouf is also fighting with IS militants in the Middle East, and made headlines when he posted a photo of his young son brandishing a severed head.
- ‘ISIS made me clean the toilets… and my iPod didn’t work’.
- Canadian woman ‘captured by ISIS in Syria’ says she is actually fine and still fighting the jihadists, despite kidnap reports.
- More Australians have slipped through net to fight for Isis, federal police say.
Intercepted phone calls between alleged #terrorist recruiter Hamdi #Alqudsi and #ISIS chief Mohammad Ali #Baryalei revealed in court
Alleged Syrian recruiter: Hamdi Alqudsi (pictured on Tuesday outside a court in central Sydney) is charged with seven counts of recruiting the men to enter ‘into a foreign state, namely Syria, with intent to engage in hostile activity in Syria, in particular, engaging in armed hostilities in Syria’
Candace Sutton, Daily Mail Australia
The intercepted phone calls of an alleged Australian terrorist recruiter, who is charged with helping young people join jihadist networks in Syria, have been heard in court.
Sydney man Hamdi Alqudsi allegedly acted as the liaison man and advisor between Australia’s most senior Islamic State leader, Mohammad Ali Baryalei, and the would-be terrorists and organised travel, hotel accommodation, different overseas currencies, security, a Syrian contact and ‘general encouragement and support’, according to the police facts in the case.
In alleged phone calls between the two men heard in court on Friday, Baryalei – who is thought to now be dead – told Alqudsi of his experiences on the front line and claimed he was almost hit by a bullet.
Lined up and shot: Beautiful Gold Coast private schoolgirl, Amira Karroum (pictured) secretly flew to Syria last December after her husband, Tyler Casey, was allegedly recruited by Hamdi Alqudsi. Ms Karroum and Casey were shot dead in mid-January in the northern Syrian town of Aleppo.
The federal prosecutors in the committal hearing against Alqudsi, who faces seven charges of conscripting Australians to join ISIS or other groups in Syria’s civil war, say they have ‘overwhelming’ evidence of Alqudsi recruiting and instructing young Australian men to go and fight in Syria.
The prosecutor tendered more than 100 pages of phone tap records as part of a case against him, at Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney.
The prosecutor said Alqudsi had organised for the men to go to ‘a particular part of Turkey which was known as the place where the fighters go to’.
In one text message, Alqudsi and one of the recruits wrote about ‘getting the green light’ for the trip into Syria.
Despite a statement by Mr Alqudsi’s lawyer, Zali Burrows, that the 39-year-old could not be identified as the speaker or texter recruiting the would-be fighters, the prosecution had declared in one text and a telephone call his own name.
‘He says “I am Hamdi Alqudsi” and in one message ‘write my name, Alqudsi”.’
Alleged mastermind: Hamdi Alqudsi (pictured on Tuesday after appearing briefly in the Downing Centre Local Court in central Sydney) is, police claim, the chief recruiter in Australia of young men who want to go and fight in Syria against government forces with groups such as the extremists in ISIS
ISIS leader Baryalei left Australia on April 10 last year on a flight to Tokyo.
At 1am on June 22 last year federal police intercepted a call between Baryalei and Alqudsi, in which Baryalei explains he ‘just got back yesterday after fighting a battle where five brothers were killed and a lot of brothers were injured’.
‘They were trying to take a large stronghold, however they encountered difficulties due to a sniper wiping everyone out’
Baryalei was himself nearly killed ‘as a bullet came so close to him that his ears were ringing from the noise of the bullet’.
Baryalei said he had watched a ‘commander die right in front of his eyes’ and described his fighters taking out two to three tanks.
On June 25 last year at 9.05pm, police intercepted another call in which Alqudsi in Sydney told Baryalei in Syria, ‘four brothers coming this week, they are leaving Australia, going to try and get them by the weekend’.
Alqudsi named them as Abu Qaqa, ‘the tall one’ (Tyler Casey), Abu Moussa (Caner Temel) and Biber’s ‘best friend’, Abu Abdul Malik (Mehmet Biber) and Abu Islam ‘ the Sudanese brother’.
‘They are ready,’ Alqudsi told Baryalei. ‘They are going to all meet in Istanbul then they are going to come all the way to Hatay [the southern province of Turkey which borders Syria] so you need to let me know if you want to pick them up from Hatay airport or do you want them to go to a particular hotel.’
Death in Syria: Hamdi Alqudsi is accused of recruiting Tyler Casey (above, left), originally from Redcliffe, Queensland and former Australian infantry soldier, 22-year-old Caner Temel (right) to Syria where they were both killed in January, Temel shot in the head by a sniper, and Casey and his wife, Amira Karroum were reportedly lined up, shot, and their bodies dismembered.
Alqudsi said ‘the brothers’ were ‘crying, affected, none of them wanted to stay in this country one second. They are ready.’
Alqudsi said the men would pay cash for the trip, with one of them giving $4000 and $2000.
On June 29, 2013 police intercepted a call at 5.59pm from Baryalei in Syria in which he told Alqudsi he had no intention of returning to Australia and he wanted to be a ‘Shaheed’ – an honor for Muslims who lay down their life for their religion or die fighting defending their faith.
He said if he did this, he would leave his wife in Turkey as he did not wish to take her into Syria.
Alqudsi said he was sending over another Australian recruit to Syria, Muhammed Abdul-Karim Musleh.
At 7.17pm on the same evening, Alqudsi called Baryalei’s phone and spoke to a man called Khatab, from the Al Nusra front and they promised to Skype each other.
Soccer nut: Mehmet Biber, a 21-year-old Turkish-Australian from Merrylands, Sydney, who loved poetry and soccer, became radicalised and was then recruited allegedly by Hamdi Alqudsi and crossed the Turkish border into Syria, from where he has posted photographs of bloodied aid workers injured in fighting.
The next morning at 6.32am, Alqudsi called a different phone of Baryalei’s, in which the latter said the extremist group he was associated with had split into two groups, Jabhat al Nusra and Dawla Islamieh who were ‘mujahadeens as well man’ and he wanted to join the second group.
Australian Federal Police say the second group is a branch of Al Qaida.
At 5.25pm on July 2 last year, Tyler Casey and Caner Temel called Alqudsi from Turkey saying the ‘boys’ had just arrived, the trip was good and they would soon fly south to Hatay.
Alqudsi told them what hotel to stay in, instructed them to stay out of sight, buy a new SIM card and change their money into Turkish, Syrian and American currency.
Alqudsi told the young men Baryalei would be waiting for them and to keep him updated.
At 3.39pm on July 3, Alqudsi spoke with Muhammed Musleh who said they were about to board a plane for Hatay. Aqudsi said Baryalei had already left the international border crossing between Syria and Turkey at Bab al-Hawa to pick them up.
Alqudsi has now been ordered to stand trial on seven charges of recruiting young men to fight with terrorist forces in Syria.
Dawn raid: Hamdi Alqudsi was arrested last December at this four bedroom house (pictured) at St Helens Park in far south-western Sydney where he had been living quietly with his family. Police allege he was helping young Australians to go and fight in Syria.
Fighters from Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) hold their weapons as they stand on confiscated cigarettes before setting them on fire in the city of Raqqa April 2, 2014.. REUTERS/Stringer
Reissa Su, International Business Times | Australia.
Australia has been warned not to allow home-grown terrorists to return to the country. A former Al Qaeda fighter who became an informant for the Central Intelligence Agency suggested that the Australian government should cancel their passports in a time of “war.”
Morten Storm told ABC that people have declared war against Australia, referring to the extremist group ISIS. He said Australian extremist fighters may use their passports as a tool to “become a terrorist.” The CIA informant is a Danish national who was once a member of bikie gangs before converting to Islam. He revealed that Islam for him was a “model way of life” for him to follow which he needed badly at that time of his life.
After his conversion to Islam, he travelled to Yemen where he was convinced by Al Qaeda militant Anwar al-Awlaki to join the “violent jihad.” He revealed in the show that he was a trusted messenger of al-Awlaki since he had built a strong relationship with him.
It was only when he failed to join the fight in Somalia because of a change in plans when he abandoned radical Islam. He contacted a Danish intelligence agent and said he wanted to help in fighting the terrorists.
Storm began working as an informer for the Danish, British and U.S. intelligence while pretending to play the role of a married Muslim man. The intelligence agencies used Storm’s relationship with al-Awlaki to capture him in Yemen. The Al Qaeda leader was eventually killed in 2011. However, Storm’s relationship with the intelligence agencies had soured when they reportedly failed to give him credit and reward for his role in toppling the terror network.
He warned of Australian teens like Abdullah Elmir who was recently seen in an ISIS propaganda video. Storm believes Elmir may have been influenced by the same factors which had convinced him in his youth several years ago. He said ISIS propaganda videos are dangerous since they are used as propaganda tools. Storm suggested that governments should ban the dissemination of ISIS-related videos. Australians fighting alongside ISIS believe they are part of the Islamic Ummah or an Islamic nation, he said.
Meanwhile, two of the four brothers from Sydney who were recruited to ISIS were reportedly deemed too “obese” to fight with the extremist group. Their mother was shocked when she received a text message from one of her sons, telling her he and his brothers had arrived in Syria, according to reports. The mother appealed to her sons to return home.
Friends in low places … 17-year-old Abdullah Elmir appears to have fallen in with Mohamed Elomar. Source: YouTube
THE wanted Australian terrorist Mohamed Elomar appears to have surfaced in the same Islamic State propaganda video that featured the Sydney teenage runaway dubbed the Ginger Jihadist.
Abdullah Elmir, aged 17, shocked the world on Tuesday when he delivered a depraved threat to world leaders including Tony Abbott, saying the black flag of IS would eventually fly all over the West.
The teenager left home in June after telling his parents he was going on a fishing trip.
A closer inspection of the video has caused speculation to mount about the identity of another man in the chilling video. Intelligence officers are now investigating whether the man to Elmir’s right is the notorious extremist, Elomar.
Elomar, a former boxing champion, joined IS in Syria and has appeared in many propaganda videos holding severed heads.
He became a poster boy for the depraved death cult when shocking images surfaced of his two young sons holding a severed head.
Depraved … Elomar has risen to prominence for gory photo shoots featuring severed heads of IS dissenters. Source: News Corp Australia
Young friends struggle with Elmir’s shock turn:
FRIENDS of the Australian teenager have come out in defence of their former mate.
The former Bankstown schoolboy, Elmir, was branded a “stupid idiot” by family members and a “dickhead” by Australian Senator David Leyonhjelm after he appeared in the IS video.
But his young friends say they “defend his legacy” as they struggle to get their heads around the drastic transformation they’ve seen in the boy.
Speaking to the ABC one of Elmir’s friends said, “his friends were taken by surprise by his sudden departure”.
“It’s causing a lot of conflict on social media,” she said.
“His close friends are trying to get everyone to respect Abdullah’s decision and not cuss him as he was just as normal as anyone else.”
Another friend told the ABC through Facebook, “never make judgements on a situation you’ve never been in. Never make judgements on decisions you’ve never had to make.”
Another also said, “I swear, people get mad because we defend his legacy, he is still our mate and that’s not changing anything.”
Before travelling to the Middle East it has been reported that Elmir had a love of theatre and last year, while in year 10, wrote about looking forward to more great performances.
Brainwashed…family members of Elmir, say he has been brainwashed by IS.. Picture: Youtube. Source: Supplied
He ran away from his Bankstown home on June 20, soon after his 17th birthday, with his 16-year-old friend, known only Feiz.
Elmir told his parents that he was off on a fishing trip, but his true motives were much more sinister.
He travelled to Perth, and then flew out to Malaysia and then Turkey before crossing the border into Syria.
Intelligence agencies believe he has been in Syria for the past four months, but he was not considered a priority target by intelligence agencies before the release of the video.