A young, high-profile Australian has given up a promising career and joined the Islamic State in Iraq. Sharky Jama, a budding male model, along with his friend Yusuf Yusuf, a business student at La Trobe University in Melbourne, left Australia to join the brutal terror group — Jama in Fallujah and Yusuf in Raqqa, Syria.
Both men are from Somalian descent.
Australian media have published pictures of Jama released from his modelling agency showing a dapper young man in various poses sporting stylish Western clothing. Yusuf, in various social media posts, also cuts a smart figure, equally impressive as his model friend.
Shockingly, the men fit a “typical profile” of Australians joining the Islamic State, according to Dr. Anne Aly from Curtin University, a leading Australian institution.
Speaking to the Daily Mail Australia, Curtin said, “That is pretty much a very typical profile, young men who, for all intents and purposes seem to be quite well integrated … but then there's something that turns them. It might take a year, it might take six months, and if they continue down that path and become more and more radicalized, they get to the point where they're ready to take action.”
Although most social media accounts connected to Jama have been closed — including a previous account with the name “thelastkhliafat”(with khalifa, or caliphate, misspelled), Jama remains on Facebook (with a different name).
As recently as December 26, Jama posted on this account, commenting on suicide bombers.“(As) I found most often, it’s the brothers who do the martyrdom operations that are the happiest of people,” he wrote.
Earlier in the month, Jama wrote about his life with the Islamic State. “The place i came from most often you would find it to be peaceful, however the heart was always at war,” he said. “The place i now call home, there is nothing but war, however the heart is always at peace.”
From posts on Yusuf’s account – and comments from his friends who express disgust at his change – it appears that Yusuf was radicalized only recently. In response to a sharply worded post by Yusuf, one friend wrote, “What happened to that sweet human being you used to be? No one said you can’t be practicing, but will it kill you to be kind and humble?”
Another commented, “You don’t want to be remembered as that aggressive preacher who spread hate and told everyone that they’re going to hell!”
Yusuf recently posted a video of fighters in Raqqa shooting guns in celebration after an Islamic State attack on a nearby area. He also joked about the prospects of being married to the sister of a fellow fighter from Chechnya.
The Australian government estimates that 70 Australians are currently fighting for the Islamic State with another 20 killed in various battles.
Some have been high-profile, like 17-year-old convert-to-Islam Abdullah Elmir, who is only 17 years old. Elmir, dubbed the “Ginger Jihadi” because of his red hair, appeared in an Islamic State propaganda video threatening that the terror group would not stop its advance until “the black flag is flying high in every single land – until we put the black flag on top of Buckingham Palace, until we put the black flag on top of the White House, we will not stop and we will keep on fighting."
Another Australian, Zakaria Raad, 22, was also featured in an Islamic State video. He was reportedly killed in July, shortly after he appeared in the video.
In mid-December, Australia was terrorized by “Sheikh” Man Haron Monis, an Islamic State supporter originally from Iran who took 17 people hostage in a downtown Sydney café for 16 hours resulting in the death of two of the hostages.
In September, police in Australia embarked on a major counter-terrorism operation in response to intelligence that the Islamic State was planning an imminent attack on domestic soil designed to show just how far the terror group could reach. In the largest terror raid in Australia’s history, close to 800 federal and state police officers were dispatched to more than 12 locations across Sydney, with more raids coordinated in Brisbane and Logan.
In August, Khaled Sharrouf, a convicted Australian terrorist fighting with the Islamic State in Raqqa made headlines around the world when he posted a picture on Twitter of his seven-year-son holding up a man’s severed head. The picture was accompanied by the caption, “That’s my boy.”
Sharrouf was convicted of a failed attempt to blow up sites in Sydney and Melbourne. He escaped Australia on his brother’s passport after being released three weeks early from prison. His wife, Fatima, 29, is still in Sydney and was charged in July with “preparing for incursions into a foreign state with the intention of engaging in hostile activities.”
Officials believe that close to 100 Australian citizens within the country are agitating for the Islamic extremists, including activities such as recruitment of fighters, fundraising and indoctrinating candidates for suicide bombings.