– The four Australians killed in Syria’s civil war since August were fighting Assad forces and not providing humanitarian aid as claimed, according to the websites of jihadist groups.
Posts on online forums, including some linked with the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, are clear indications that the men have been involved in the civil conflict, a leading US academic said.
Since Sydney teacher Sheikh Mustapha Al Majzoub was killed in a rocket attack last August, three other Australians, Roger Abbas, Yusuf Toprakkaya and Sammy Salma, have also been killed.
While Mr Toprakkaya is the only Australian confirmed as traveling to Syria to fight, the online forum posts claim all four had been fighting against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
The details provided in the notices for each man vary, but the name, nationality, city of origin and city of “martyrdom” are listed.
Mr Toprakkaya was listed as having been shot dead while fighting with rebel groups against al-Assad forces near Maarat Numan.
Mr Salma was killed in Aleppo, the notices claim, but no information is given about how he died. His family say they were told he had been praying in a mosque that came under rocket attack.
Sheikh al Majzoub had reportedly been leading a rebel group that was hit by a rocket near Aleppo when he died, and Mr Abbas had been fighting for al-Nusra in the same city when he was killed, the notices claim.
Aaron Zelin, from the Washington Institute, researched martyrdom notices for an article published in the West Point Counter Terrorism Centre journal “The Sentinel”. He wrote that while the information should be considered anecdotal it was unlikely to have been fabricated.
AFP Deputy Commissioner of National Security Peter Drennan said there was no doubt some Australians were fighting with al-Nusra, which is set to be declared a prohibited organisation by the federal Attorney-General, although he said he considered the jihadist forums not to be authoritative sources.
He said that it was difficult getting information about who had travelled to Syria and whether they had joined rebel groups.
“You may be there providing medical assistance and get hit by a stray bullet, or a rocket launcher gets fired at the building you’re at, so we do need a bit of caution.
“I’m not naive enough to think some of these people aren’t shot in the heat of battle, but because of the absence of information we are cautious not to generalise.”
The families of all four men have said they did not believe the men were fighting against the government.
Mr Drennan would not be drawn on whether the AFP had enough evidence to arrest some Australians who might still be fighting in the conflict.
He said that he did not expect there were networks of recruiters operating in Australia, as feared in the Netherlands and Belgium.
There are yet to be any charges against Australians who have travelled to Syria, or those who have aided their passage, despite dozens of police raids across Europe amid fears that fighting in the conflict will radicalise young Muslims and encourage domestic terrorism.
Those found to have fought in Syria, or to have recruited fighters, could face charges. The charges could be more serious if the individual was found to have fought with al-Nusra, as opposed to the Free Syrian Army, when it becomes a prohibited group – Nino Bucci


About Jumpin' Jack Cash

Deep connections are the most important aspect of my existence. I don’t care if people don’t know what they want. I love books. I’m cynical of love stories, although I’m romantic. I adore gardens. I like women who challenge me. I love the rain as an excuse to stay inside and dream. I'm furiously impatient. If I ask you a question best to tell me the truth as I'm likely to already know the answer. I'm a carnivore. I continuously underestimate the magic of fresh flowers in my home. I love warm rain in the summer. My mood elevates to epic proportions when the sun shines. Tell me not to do something and I'll do it twice and take photos. Running is my antidepressant. I loathe lies. I rarely forgive a lie. Loyalty and honesty are my most noble virtues, and I value them more than anything in other people. I love to love, and am able to fall in love very quickly, although it's only ever happened once. I understood myself and fixed myself only after destroying myself. My greatest excitement comes from deliberately getting lost in foreign cities. I can be extremely loud and frighteningly silent. I hate insinuations. I love storms. Justice for all. I'm a proud man, but welcome the influence of the feminine soul. I have two sisters. I’m a dreamer. I’m a deep thinker. Don’t deal with guilt trips or drama that well. I'm extremely stubborn and persistent. I'm brilliant at keeping secrets. I love driving. I become absolutely and completely lost while watching a burning fire. When the toast pops from the toaster I’m never ready and shit myself. I play the guitar, but require much improvement. Solitude and warmth of the sun are perfect together. I’ve been married once and now divorced. I’m a music junkie. Chocolate mousse is the shit. I curse too much. I find it difficult to make friends. I spent four years as a firefighter. I’ve run my own company since 1991. Bright lights, big cities. I’ve been an executive producer of a feature film. Some people don’t care, and that’s the biggest let-down of the human race. There are cures and solutions for many evils, but no remedy for the worst of them all - the apathy of human beings. The sound of the Italian language being spoken is as good as my favourite music. I hate corrupt cops. I relentlessly and passionately pursue anybody and anything that sets my soul on fire. I'm a dog lover, and all my dogs are considered family members. I have an obsession with photography. I have some close friends who are household names, but shall always remain anonymous. I’m crazy but not lazy. Losing a soulmate has hurt me badly. My two young sons are the nucleus of my universe. I love airports. I love freedom. If you are dishonest or disloyal, I can erase you from my life and memory immediately and permanently. I yearn to explore, dream about and discover as many friendships, deep connections and places, one possibly can in a lifetime.
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