EXCLUSIVE: A Melbourne man has been killed after joining Islamic State militants fighting in Syria, his father has told SBS. It comes as new report by the Lowy Institute says the large number of Australians fighting in Syria and Iraq represents a 'serious national security threat.'
Melbourne man and former model Sharky Jama has been killed in Syria, reportedly shot after joining Islamic State militants last year.
The news came as a report released today said large numbers of Australians fighting in Syria and Iraq posed a "serious national security threat".
Jama’s father Dida Jama confirmed his death to SBS Radio Somali broadcaster Ibrahim Mohamed, who spoke with the family on Wednesday.
Mr Mohamed said Dida Jama had received a phone call on Monday, saying that his son had been shot.
"He was told by his friends," Mr Mohamed said.
"He got a text message and he received a phone call from Syria, someone has told him his son has passed away. Then he said 'I tried his number,' because he has contact with his son. Automatically, it goes to voicemail, that’s what he said, and then he knew that his son is gone," Mr Mohamed said.
Earlier reports cited social media posts stating that Sharky Jama was living in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, held by IS militants. He was reportedly shot in Syria.
"He got a text message and he received a phone call from Syria, someone has told him his son has passed away."
Mr Mohamed said Dida Jama would be speaking to the Somali community in the wake of his son’s death, urging them to take care of their children and ensure they don’t fall prey to militants.
"His message is to the Somali community, to look after their kids," Mr Mohamed said.
A second source has today confirmed Jama’s death, The Herald Sun reports.
Condolences have been posted on Facebook, where Jama’s friends have been mourning his death.
A cousin, Habiba Warsame, posted a photo of Jama on Facebook, stating “may Allah bless your soul”.
The post has attracted dozens of comments, one which stated that he “died a shaheed” or martyr.
Another cousin, Saed Van Riel, posted a photo with the caption “to Allah we belong and to Him we shall return”.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade could not confirm the death, citing limited capabilities in the “extremely dangerous security situation”.
“Australians who become involved in overseas conflicts are putting their own lives in mortal danger,” a spokesman said.
“Any Australians fighting with non-state militia in Syria or Iraq should end their involvement in the conflict now and leave the conflict zone.”
Fear of attack in Australia 'well-founded'
A Lowy Institute report has cited the government's "troubled relations" with Australia's Muslim community as hampering efforts at countering extremism.
The report, released on Thursday, said the large number of Australians fighting in Syria and Iraq represents a "serious national security threat" but that the risk of an attack on home soil could be mitigated by the right policy response.
"Returned foreign fighters have been involved in many of the most serious jihadist plots in the West, including in Australia," the report said.
"Returnees from Syria have already engaged in terrorist plots in Europe, and the large number of Australians involved with groups such as IS (Islamic State) and Jabhat al-Nusra raises well-founded fears of an increased threat at home."
"Returned foreign fighters have been involved in many of the most serious jihadist plots in the West, including in Australia."
While much of the responsibility in dealing with the threat will lie with the police and intelligence services, the report said, it added that programs aimed at countering violent extremism (CVE) need to be a core element of the response.
The report said "questions remain" as to how any new CVE approach will be implemented by the government, and that "troubled relations with Australia's Muslim communities mean that its efforts to counter violent extremism are not off to the strongest of starts".
A successful CVE approach should draw on the talent that already exists within relevant communities, the report said, but that "community co-operation has been undermined" by a lack of information about changes to the government's approach, including funding of grant schemes.
- With AAP