“Ali” used to support IS. He became part of an intervention program, after police spoke to him and his parents. For more of Ali’s story, watch Radical Rewire, Thursday 2 June 7.30pm on SBS 2.
Why did you start supporting IS?
The reason I supported them was because of their slogan which is very emotional, very emotional language, emotional terminology, and because of my general ignorance of Islam. I didn't know anything about Islam, just very basic stuff at this time. I ... barely read Koran, barely, maybe once a week.
(Their) outward appearance was, very nice….they claim for one that...they're bringing back Sharia to the world and they’re fighting the enemies of Islam.
When you see people who claim ‘we're following the Koran’ and saying that ‘we're growing our beards, look we pray...we fight jihad and the cause of Allah... and we are bringing back the Sharia’, you believe this.
The western media actually supported them a lot, by using words like ‘jihad’ or ‘jihadist’, they're an ‘Islamic State’, they're a ‘caliphate’, using terminology like this.
A lot of guys went over to Syria at that time, did you ever seriously consider that?
I considered it very often, very often. Very often I thought I should go.
Did you feel there any pressure, were others around you talking about it too?
Well they just encouraged me, it's just something to aspire to...like kids aspire to Schoolies. It's like that basically. Everyone fantasised about it.
But...how really sincere we were, dedicated to this, we don't know..l. Even though other people have done it, it’s something we just fantasised about. It wasn't really something that actually was going to happen.
Did any of the people you were talking to online...try to encourage you to do something that was violent?
There was many people in Daesh at that time who are just calling for lone wolf attacks in Australia... many people on the timeline saying you should do this attack, you should do that, just general calls. Some people even told me you should do (it). No, no, no. I rejected it. I told them blatantly, I'm rejecting (it), I don't want to do it. And they said Allah will question you on the day of judgment for this, and...what will you say?... Saying like... do it for the sake of the, Khilafah, because the caliphate needs you to do this, Baghdadi wants you to do this.
You came to the attention of the authorities. How did you feel when they came to visit you and your family?
At that time, I was actually having some very severe doubts about Daesh. And then when the authorities came, it...pushed me back again to saying ‘oh no, they're on the truth’.
I'm like “oh see, if the authorities want to stop Daesh, (and) me from being Daeshi, Daesh must be on the truth...they are the ones on the true path of the prophet.”
The police suggested you participate in a kind of program. What’s involved with that?
I meet some people who help me get employment, I meet also a sheikh as well, he teaches me some very, beneficial knowledge about Islam and some things that you can't really teach yourself.
But, I'll be honest... by the time I was involved in this project, I'd been against Daesh for more than six months.
So how did you go from being a supporter of IS to having the feelings you have now?
Really, the simple answer is I just sought knowledge in Islam. It's as simple as that. I just began to read up about Islam and study Islam more.
I thought if I learn about Islam I'll be able to defend Daesh better…
I started to read the biography of the (Islamic) scholars and I started to find out what a scholar is. I started to attend lectures in this country. There's Salafi sheiks in this country. And I was really impressed by knowledge, so the obsession I had with Daesh became replaced with an obsession with knowledge...I basically, I abandoned the Daesh mentality
If you still supported IS now, where do you think you would be? What do you think you'd be doing?
This is a difficult question, I don't know. Probably I’d (have done) something stupid eventually, maybe I'd get arrested somehow. Probably I'd either be arrested or I'd go and join this (outsider) group...I would be fighting and killing Muslims and just massacring Muslims.
On the day of judgment, how am I going to go before Allah? How am I going to stand before Allah like this?