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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.
While Syrian Kurds are politically at odds with their Iraqi brethren, they have agreed to accept an influx of peshmerga fighters as part of any offensive.
People watch an explosion after an apparent US-led coalition airstrike on Kobani, Syria
Karen Deyoung | WASHINGTON
The United States and Iraq are drawing up a campaign plan for offensive operations by Iraqi ground forces to gradually reclaim towns and cities that have been occupied by Isis, according to a senior US official.
The plan, described as methodical and time-consuming, will not begin in earnest for several months and is designed to ensure that Iraqi forces do not over-extend themselves before they are capable of taking and holding territory controlled by the militants.
It may also include American advisers in the field with the Iraqis, should that be recommended by American military commanders, said the official, who updated reporters on administration strategy on the condition of anonymity. The advisers, the official said, would not participate in combat. President Barack Obama has said repeatedly that no US ground forces would be deployed to Iraq.
With few exceptions, the Iraqi army has concentrated largely on defence and efforts to prevent Isis from claiming more territory since early June when the militant group took over Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, and began moving south.
Despite some government gains, aided since early August by US air strikes, the militants control about one-third of Iraq, stretching from near Baghdad to the northwest, and across western Anbar province to the Syrian border.
In August, Mr Obama also authorised air strikes against Isis targets in western and northern Syria. Over the past few weeks, world attention has focused on the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border, where Isis forces have threatened to overrun besieged Syrian Kurdish fighters.
President Obama has insisted that the US would not deploy ground forces to Iraq (Getty)
Following a US military airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medical supplies to the Syrian Kurds on Sunday, Iraqi Kurdish fighters, called the peshmerga, are expected to come to their assistance.
The administration official said that the Syrian Kurds, while politically at odds with their Iraqi brethren, have agreed to accept an influx of peshmerga fighters. Details of the size and composition of the Iraqi Kurdish force, which is expected to cross into Kobani from Turkey, are to be finalised in the next few days.
But the US administration has said repeatedly that Iraq remains its main concern. Mr Obama said last month that in addition to the air strikes, his strategy includes trainers and advisers for the Iraqi military, which largely fled from advancing Isis forces in Mosul, and the installation of a more inclusive Iraqi government under which the country’s principal Muslim sects could unite.
© The Washington Post
A Twenty five-year-old woman arrested north of London for suspected offences relating to the civil war in Syria.
Detectives said security investigations were taking place at an ‘exceptionally high’ pace not seen in years. [Reuters]
Bedfordshire, England – British police have taken a 25-year-old woman into custody on suspicion of terrorism offences related to the ongoing civil war in Syria, officials have said.
London’s counter terrorism command said on Wednesday that officers had arrested the woman in Bedfordshire, north of the capital, on suspicion of preparing terrorism acts.
The police said she had been taken to a police station in London for questioning.
Two addresses in Bedfordshire were being searched, they added.
Last week, four men were charged with swearing allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), who have seized large swathes of Syria and Iraq, and preparing to launch an attack on policemen or soldiers in the capital.
On Tuesday, London police chief Bernard Hogan-Howe said at least five Britons were travelling to Iraq and Syria every week to fight for ISIL, while the authorities estimate that about 500 Britons have already travelled to the region to join the fighting.
Mark Rowley, Britain’s national policing spokesman for counter-terrorism, said last week that the police had made 218 arrests so far this year, and that detectives were carrying out security investigations at an “exceptionally high” pace not seen in years.
Ukrainian soldiers attend a mass funeral ceremony near Zaporizhzhya on October 1 to bury unidentified members of pro-Ukrainian military forces who were killed in fighting in the country’s east.
Bohdana Kostiuk reporting,
What priority should a country give to retrieving, identifying, and burying its war dead?
Ask Yaroslav Zhylkin, the head of Ukraine’s casualty-recovery efforts, and he’ll begin with an anecdote about the U.S. response when two American soldiers went missing in Afghanistan in 2006.
More than 8,000 soldiers and a group of forensic scientists, he says, were involved in that search.
In Ukraine, by contrast, a single group of 30 volunteers has assumed responsibility for retrieving fighters killed in battle in the eastern Donbas region.
The group — dubbed Black Tulip after the cargo plane tasked with shipping the bodies of soldiers killed during the Soviet war in Afghanistan — began its work on September 3.
Since then, they’ve found and evacuated the remains of more than 150 Ukrainian soldiers who died fighting in the government’s so-called Antiterrorist Operation (ATO) against pro-Russian rebels in parts of the eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions.
“We’ve gone through 10 districts and excavated remains from more than 30 graves, including 11 mass graves,” said Zhylkin, who runs the National Memory Union, an NGO overseeing the Black Tulip mission and other efforts to connect families with soldiers and volunteer fighters who have gone missing in the war.
“We also gathered the remains of crew members who were burned to death in military equipment,” Zhylkin noted grimly. He paused before adding, “It’s worth emphasizing that our mission is run exclusively by volunteers.”
In an undeclared war comprising numerous armed groups with frequently differing agendas, the task of retrieving bodies left on the battlefield is both complicated and dangerous.
Zhylkin notes that Black Tulip volunteers are frequently forced to comb through fields controlled by separatists and dotted with mines and unexploded shells.
Even the dead soldiers represent a risk, as they are often laid with booby-trapped grenades set to detonate once the bodies are touched.
Still, Zhylkin says Black Tulip has cooperated with separatists themselves, who have occasionally approached the group for help finding their dead fighters as well. The volunteers don’t turn anyone away.
“Nobody’s fighting with the dead,” Zhylkin says.
In addition to the danger, the group faces substantial costs. Each of the group’s missions into the ATO zone costs approximately 40,000 hryvnia ($3,000), an amount mostly bankrolled by the volunteers themselves.
“The lion’s share of the mission is self-financed,” says Yaroslav Tynchenko, the deputy director of Ukraine’s National Military History Museum, who volunteers with the Black Tulip mission. “We mainly pay for all our own gasoline and transportation.”
Additional necessities, like refrigerated trucks, are provided by charities. The group gets no direct funding from the government.
All recovered bodies are turned over to Ukrainian Army command, ideally for identification and return to families for burial. But recent weeks have seen an increasing number of mass burials for fighters who remain unidentified, including an October 17 funeral outside Dnipropetrovsk for 21 unknown soldiers killed in action.
As the country’s morgues fill to capacity with war dead, military officials have been forced to bury many unnamed soldiers rather than wait for the possibility of eventual identification.
Black Tulip workers say the lack of identification tags among ATO fighters has proven one of the toughest challenges in their work.
Volunteer brigades and National Guard battalions, which make up a substantial part of Ukraine’s current fighting force, do not consistently receive ID tags before being sent into battle.
Black Tulip workers say they have called on high-ranking government officials to provide dog tags and otherwise aid in casualty-recovery efforts.
Defense Ministry official Oleksiy Nazdrachev says the ministry has already earmarked 3 million hryvnia ($232,000) for the production of ID tags to be distributed to all army soldiers, National Guard members, and volunteer fighters.
For Zhylkin, the change can’t come too soon. He says the remains of hundreds of fighters have yet to be cleared from the battlefields of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions. More than 3,600 fighters and civilians have been killed in Ukraine in the past six months.