Khaled Sharrouf’s tweeted picture of himself, and his young son, triumphantly holding the severed heads of people executed by Islamic State militants shocked Australia and the world. He presented himself as a religious warrior fighting for an Islamic caliphate in the Middle East.
But those close to him in Australia knew another man – a person with a history of drug taking, mental illness and criminal violence, who very likely fled Australia because he feared criminal associates who wanted him dead.
He shocked the world by tweeting pictures of himself and his child holding the severed heads of people executed by Islamic State (IS). Khaled Sharrouf casts himself as a religious warrior fighting to create a caliphate in the Middle East.
But a close look at his life tells a more complex story of a young man with a history of drug taking, mental illness and violence. Overall one question recurs: is he a religious zealot or a criminal thug who used his muscle in the building industry?
“Khaled Sharrouf is not bad, he’s mad. There’s no less than five psychiatrists that I know who have diagnosed him with very significant mental health issues.” – Sharrouf’s former lawyer
This week, reporter Marian Wilkinson investigates the extraordinary life of Khaled Sharrouf, from petty criminal and underworld heavy to barbaric terrorist fighter.
“… He certainly appears to have become involved with some people who were involved in some pretty serious criminal activity and a couple of people in fact who were murdered, ultimately.” – Police Officer
Sharrouf’s notoriety began when he was arrested by police, charged and found guilty of a terrorism offence in 2005. Since then, he has recast himself as an enforcer for hire.
These days, former associates don’t like to talk about their relationship with Sharrouf, but Four Corners has found evidence from various sources about the way he worked with figures in the building industry and how he came to the attention of law enforcement agents after an alleged extortion threat against one of Australia’s most prominent construction companies.
It’s clear that while Khaled Sharrouf may have had some powerful allies, he also made some dangerous enemies.
“I believe that Khaled Sharrouf was afraid for his life and that’s what made him decide to leave Australia and use his brother’s passport to escape, because he was concerned that he will be the next one to be shot.” – Muslim Community Leader
One other question remains. How did someone with a criminal conviction, who was on a watch list and under investigation, get out of the country using his brother’s passport?
By Marian Wilkinson and Deborah Richards
20 September 2011 Link to CDPP Operation Pendennis
The report makes reference to the September 15th 2012 protest in Sydney.
The ‘Al Furqan’ raid – Melbourne raid September 16, 2012, here