Home // 2019 // March

Islamic State Recruit is Melbourne drop-out called Jake

The Islamic State recruit the British media decried as a “white jihadi” in December,  proclaiming he was a “major coup for the terrorist group”, is a skinny, baby-faced boy from Craigieburn in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, and his non-Muslim family is worried sick about him.
Nanjing Night Net

Fairfax Media can reveal that the young westerner pictured last December sitting between bearded men and holding an assault rifle in front of a black flag is actually an 18-year-old Australian called Jake. We will not reveal his full name at the request of a family member.

The revelations come as Australian customs officials confirmed that two teenage brothers, believed to have been attempting to travel to conflict zones in the Middle East, were stopped at Sydney Airport.

The youths, aged 16 and 17, were detained by Customs on Friday, after they aroused the suspicions of two Customs and Border Protection officers, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said.

The teenagers were referred to the Customs Counter Terrorism Unit, which determined the pair were intending to travel without the knowledge of their parents. The brothers were allowed to leave the airport with their parents and were issued court attendance notices.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the interception showed the government’s tough new foreign fighters laws were working.

Meanwhile, Fairfax’s investigation can reveal Jake was a high-flying student, a maths whiz, who attended Craigieburn Secondary College’s CEAP Excel accelerated learning program.

However, he dropped out of high school in mid-2014, after converting to Islam, and bought a one-way ticket to Istanbul, on the way to Iraq and Syria to fight for the so-called caliphate.

In December, Jake’s photograph hit Twitter, where a user, Abu Dawud, identified the young man as “Jonathan Edwards”.

The tweet said he had “applied for Ucas [Britain’s Universities and Colleges Admissions Service] to [sic] late and wasn’t accepted in any university, so he joined the Islamic state”.

After Britain’s Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph newspapers picked up the story and ran it, Abu Dawud laughed about having “trolled” and “humiliated” the British media, saying the story was fake, leading to speculation that the picture was doctored.

But Fairfax Media has had the photograph positively identified by friends and also by members of two suburban north Melbourne mosques as that of a quiet, young Muslim convert who worshipped with them for about a year before disappearing.

“He used to come here when we had a big lecture,” said Abu Zaid, a committee member of the Hume Islamic Youth Centre in Coolaroo, near Meadow Heights.

Mr Zaid said Jake didn’t have a car, so he used to ask the other brothers for lifts to and from the centre, which features a prayer hall for more than 1000 people, lecture rooms, a cafe and a gym.

“He was a very quiet guy; he stuck to himself,” Mr Zaid said. “We weren’t close to him. I didn’t see any of the people [getting] close to him.”

Worshippers at the Australian Islamic Social Association in Meadow Heights also remember the young Jake going there to pray.

It is understood that Jake, who now goes by the Islamic names Abdur Raheem or Abu Abdullah, was 16 when he began feeling unhappy and started searching for spiritual answers.

A school friend introduced him to Islam and he recited the verses required to convert.

At the Meadow Heights mosque, people who remembered Jake said his family was negative towards his new religion.

A former school friend, who asked to remain anonymous, but said he had known Jake since they were children, said Jake had “made his own choice and he believes it is the right choice”.

“He was not pushed into IS [Islamic State] and was not pushed into Islam,” the friend said.

“People can make their own decisions and this was one of his … he felt that it was right for him … He had done sufficient research to believe it was the right step in life.

“He was obviously a believer in Islam and wanted to fulfil what he believed was his duties to the religion.”

Other friends described Jake as extremely shy and quiet, but said  he was “really bright”.

School friend Kutlu Karapinar said he was “quite politically aware for his age”.

Another, Josh Green-Mercier, said he was interested in different cultures, but “he never seemed very happy”. “I’m not sure why. He usually just listened to us and sometimes talked but rarely. He would just talk about math, etc.”

A Fairfax Media investigation has revealed that, during his final year of high school in 2014, Jake began communicating via online forums and emails with a supposed American journalist from the BBC. He began telling his family he was going to Istanbul to work with the journalist, even though he had previously expressed little interest in the profession and had no qualifications. It now appears the “journalist” was an Islamic State recruiter.

By that stage he had moved to a school in Essendon and was finding the travel difficult from Craigieburn. According to one friend, Jake believed he would fail high school, so he dropped out.

A source close to the family says that in August that year, Jake closed down most of his online and social media accounts and disappeared. A subsequent search revealed he bought a one-way ticket to Istanbul.

Two months after his disappearance, Jake contacted his family to let them know that he was in Iraq training for a “martyrdom mission” with a suicide vest. Later that month, however, he called again to say he was “too scared to do it and he prefers being a soldier”. He proposed to travel to Syria.

Fairfax Media has confirmed with sources in Turkey that about that time, Jake, using his full Islamic name and his family’s surname, was documented crossing into Syria via the Jaraybus or Tal Aybad crossing. The sources also identified him by photographs.

Neither the Attorney-General’s department nor the Australian Federal Police would comment on the case, but the government says at least 140 Australians have travelled overseas to fight in Iraq and Syria, of whom at least 20 are known to have died.

Jake left little online activity behind, but one is on video-sharing site Livestream, where he followed one user only: the national Muslim organisation Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’a Association of Australia (ASWJ).

ASWJ is based in Auburn, Sydney, and is associated with the Hume Islamic Youth Centre in Melbourne. It streams lectures via the social media site.

Jake’s profile picture includes a quote from Islamic philosopher Ibn Taymiyyah: “What can my enemies do to me? My paradise is in my heart, it is with me wherever I go. To imprison me is to provide me with seclusion. To send me into exile is to send me away in the Path of Allah. And to kill me is to make me a martyr”.

With Lisa Visentin

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2887629/White-jihadi-Jonathan-Edwards-pictured-posing-guns-alongside-terror-fighters-missed-University-application-joined-ISIS-instead.html

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Planning minister: skyscrapers make Melbourne’s CBD hostile

Melbourne’s Flagstaff Gardens bowling club, designed by Melbourne City Council’s design team, is one of the planning minister’s favourite CBD buildings. Photo: Photo: Luis Ascui MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 08: Photo of Republic Tower – cnr Queens and Latrobe Street on March 8, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Luis Ascui/Fairfax Media) Photo: Luis Ascui
Nanjing Night Net

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 08: Photo of property number 60 Canning st in North Melbourne on March 8, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Luis Ascui/Fairfax Media) Photo: Luis Ascui

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 23: A row of 2 story terrace houses on Powlett St, between Gipps and Hotham Streets East Melbourne for story on rezoning of exclusive Melbourne suburbs buy planning minister Matthew Guy. Melbourne, November 23, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Josh Robenstone/Fairfax Media) Photo: Josh Robenstone

970630 – Travel – Brambuk Cultural Centre, Grampians (Gariwerd).Brambuk Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Halls Gap.***FDCTRANSFER***

Benalla Art Gallery. Photo supplied

Photo by Penny Stephens. The Age. Minister for Planning Richard Wynne in Royal Park, Parkville. 6TH MARCH 2015 Photo: Penny Stephens

Melbourne’s Flagstaff Gardens bowling club, designed by Melbourne City Council’s design team, is one of the planning minister’s favourite CBD buildings. Photo: Photo: Luis Ascui

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 08: Photo of Republic Tower – cnr Queens and Latrobe Street on March 8, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Luis Ascui/Fairfax Media) Photo: Luis Ascui

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 08: Photo of property number 60 Canning st in North Melbourne on March 8, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Luis Ascui/Fairfax Media) Photo: Luis Ascui

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 23: A row of 2 story terrace houses on Powlett St, between Gipps and Hotham Streets East Melbourne for story on rezoning of exclusive Melbourne suburbs buy planning minister Matthew Guy. Melbourne, November 23, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Josh Robenstone/Fairfax Media) Photo: Josh Robenstone

970630 – Travel – Brambuk Cultural Centre, Grampians (Gariwerd).Brambuk Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Halls Gap.***FDCTRANSFER***

Benalla Art Gallery. Photo supplied

Melbourne’s Flagstaff Gardens bowling club, designed by Melbourne City Council’s design team, is one of the planning minister’s favourite CBD buildings. Photo: Photo: Luis Ascui

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 08: Photo of Republic Tower – cnr Queens and Latrobe Street on March 8, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Luis Ascui/Fairfax Media) Photo: Luis Ascui

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 08: Photo of property number 60 Canning st in North Melbourne on March 8, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Luis Ascui/Fairfax Media) Photo: Luis Ascui

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 23: A row of 2 story terrace houses on Powlett St, between Gipps and Hotham Streets East Melbourne for story on rezoning of exclusive Melbourne suburbs buy planning minister Matthew Guy. Melbourne, November 23, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Josh Robenstone/Fairfax Media) Photo: Josh Robenstone

970630 – Travel – Brambuk Cultural Centre, Grampians (Gariwerd).Brambuk Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Halls Gap.***FDCTRANSFER***

Benalla Art Gallery. Photo supplied

The proliferation of skyscrapers in central Melbourne has made many city streets “hostile” and windswept, new Planning Minister Dick Wynne says.

“There are some parts of the city that are quite hostile at street level,” Mr Wynne said, in his first major interview since returning to the planning portfolio. “The way some of the buildings have been constructed, you can be blown off your feet.”

In December, just days after being sworn in as planning minister, Mr Wynne was struck by a heart attack.

Now, back at work and in what he says is full health, he has started making decisions, last week approving demolition of Dallas Brooks Hall in East Melbourne and construction of a sprawling 12-level apartment complex.

Mr Wynne said it was clear too many poor-quality apartments were being built, and he vowed to bring in long-discussed minimum standards for Victoria.

Forty-four per cent of all new dwellings built in the state last year were apartments, and he said this meant better quality design and construction was needed.

“I can take you to developments very close by where the whole apartment is no bigger than [a small] room. Where I could barely get into the bathroom. Where the shower was over the toilet. And this is selling for $300,000-plus. And you think, ‘Is this the quality that we want?’ The answer is absolutely no,” he said. Favourite buildings

Asked by The Age to nominate half a dozen of his favourite buildings, Mr Wynne’s selections ranged from a small bowls club in the Flagstaff Gardens to the heritage-listed streets of East Melbourne.

Buildings that got his tick of approval include Benalla Art Gallery, pictured below. Designed by Philip Sargeant and Colin Munro, it opened in 1975. “It’s the most beautifully sited regional art gallery,” he said. “It’s spectacular.”

He said the Republic Tower at the corner of La Trobe and Queen streets, was a beautiful building. Designed by Nonda Katsalidis, the 34-storey tower pictured below caused a stir when plans for it were unveiled in the 1990s.

“Quite a few of us were looking aghast at it [because of the height]. But you look at it now and think, ‘What’s the problem?’ It’s a tall building but a good building.”

The Brambuk Cultural Centre in Halls Gap is another of Mr Wynne’s favourites. Richmond architect Gregory Burgess designed Brambuk, which means white cockatoo. “It’s a spectacular design, and tells the story of Aboriginal culture in the Halls Gap region,” Mr Wynne said.

The streets around East Melbourne as they come off the Fitzroy Gardens – one of which is pictured below – were also nominated by the minister as some of the city’s best preserved and most striking. “Walk around East Melbourne, it’s spectacular. Some of our beautiful built heritage is extraordinary.”

Mr Wynne said one of his top CBD buildings was the bowling club in Flagstaff Gardens (below). Designed by Melbourne City Council’s in-house team, this sustainable building was built in 2010 after the old bowls clubhouse burnt down. “It was a nondescript council building and bowls club before, and it’s now a fantastic community space,” he said.

A former housing minister, Mr Wynne also nominated public housing built in the 1990s in Canning Street, North Melbourne, as one of the city’s best places.

These apartments, pictured below, replaced some rather grim concrete four-storey walk-up flats. “It demonstrated you could rebuild these estates and provide public housing tenants with quality, affordable places to live,” Mr Wynne said.

Mr Wynne is now mulling over how to tackle some of the unfinished business left on his desk by predecessor Matthew Guy, now Opposition Leader.

Among them is a controversial plan for an 82-level apartment and hotel tower for Crown Casino that would overshadow the Shrine – something Mr Wynne has flagged he would not allow. Concern about density levels

Mr Wynne said he had significant concerns about the levels of density that had been approved in Melbourne’s CBD.

A recent report completed by senior city planner Leanne Hodyl found high-rise apartment towers in central Melbourne being built and approved at four times the densities allowed in some of the world’s most crowded cities.

“They are densities that give you reason to pause,” said Mr Wynne, who argued he was not opposed to tall towers. “Height in appropriate settings is a good thing. But we all get about the place on the ground.”

Mr Wynne also:

* said he would not tear up the Napthine government’s Plan Melbourne strategy for the city, instead pledging to review its contents.

* promised Melbourne’s urban growth boundary would not be shifted, and said the city had enough residential land to grow for 30 years.

* said he would not move to reject donations from property developers. “Is it legal for these people to donate? Yes, but that’s their business. If there is the suggestion that it comes with other opportunity, the answer is no; you don’t pay to get access to me.”

And, in a rare show of generosity towards the opposition, Mr Wynne said Mr Guy had been right to reject a 100-storey tower proposed by developer CBUS Property on the site of the National Mutual tower, at the corner of Collins and William streets.

“The one free kick I will give Matthew Guy is that he actually knocked off something in Collins Street … that overshadowed the [Yarra] river,” Mr Wynne said.

He said there were some “sacrosanct” parts of Melbourne that should not be overshadowed.

“There are some things in the civic realm that are not negotiable: you don’t overshadow the Shrine. You don’t overshadow the parliamentary precinct. You don’t overshadow the rivers. You don’t overshadow our beaches – we are not Surfers Paradise.”

Lord Mayor of Melbourne in 1991, Mr Wynne oversaw the closure of Swanston Street to traffic and helped start the council’s successful Postcode 3000 policy, which has dramatically boosted the number of CBD residents.

“When I was mayor there were about 200 hippies and squatters – no one lived [in the CBD]. What have we got now, 30,000 [residents]?”

One of the most controversial planning applications sitting on Mr Wynne’s desk is for an 82-level apartment tower that will also serve as a new hotel for Crown Casino. Located at 1 Queens Bridge Street, the tower would overshadow part of the Shrine forecourt for about 15 minutes on winter afternoons.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

No rain drops, so Chifley dam drops

THE hot, dry spell Bathurst is experiencing is rapidly taking chunks out of the city’s water supply.
Nanjing Night Net

Figures released by Bathurst Regional Council for Ben Chifley Dam at The Lagoon shows it sitting at 78.3 per cent.

It’s a far cry from the start of summer when it was just about at capacity.

Since then there has been scattered rain in the region, which has resulted in local farmers starting to address water shortage issues and a major change in the local countryside from emerald green to a parched, straw-like picture.

Western Advocate Rural Notebook columnist John Seaman said there had been some storm activity.

“But unfortunately it’s been all over the place and that includes the vast catchment area that Chifley Dam has, stretching all the way back up the Campbell’s River and its feeder creeks to Black Springs.

“It’s a massive area and covers some 960 square kilometres. Now that’s a big area of country that is typically renowned for its rainfall. For it to miss out on a lot of the storm activity is very rare and what falls it has received haven’t been sufficient to get the run-off you need to make it back to the dam.”

Mr Seaman said he’s had reports in recent weeks of storms, but they have varied from 110 millimetres to nothing in other places.

“It’s unpredictable,” he said. “I’ve even got an old friend at Palmers Oakey in the high country north of Bathurst who says he is starting to have water problems. That’s nearly unheard of out this way and is typical of the situation at present.”

Mr Seaman said Chifley Dam couldn’t be located in a better spot to pick up any decent rainfall.

“There’s not a better catchment area going around,” he said. “While we need the rain, there’s no talk of hand feeding yet and at this stage everyone is hoping for an autumn break (rain).

“At this time last year we got just about the best autumn break ever with 100mm one day, 40mm a few days later, another 40mm and on it went. We’d love to see that happen again.”

Ben Chifley Dam is capable of holding 30.8 million litres of water.

The supply was effectively doubled when the dam wall was raised in 2000, ironically on the eve of a decade-long drought described as the worst in living memory.

Despite the drought, Bathurst Regional Council did not have to enforce water restrictions for residents.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Yallouris joins Mile legends

NICK Yallouris joined many of cycling’s greats as a Golden Mile Wheelrace champion at Sunday night’s Bendigo International Madison carnival.
Nanjing Night Net

His warm-up to a madison start was superb as he won the Andy’s Earthmovers-backed classic ahead of Ben Abels, Rohan Wight and last year’s winner, Bendigo star Glenn O’Shea.

TOO GOOD: Nick Yallouris after his win in the Golden Mile. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY

A great summer for Yallouris included victory in the Australian Madison with Jackson Law.

“To win the Golden Mile is massive,” Yallouris declared.

He started off 10m in the 1600m contest.

“The backmarkers worked really well together,” he said of the pursuit.

It was Jackson Law’s turn at 1 1/2 laps to go that put Yallouris right in contention.

“It was a massive effort by Jackson.”

A Burnie Wheelrace winner on Tasmania’s lucrative circuit, Yallouris said the Golden Mile victory was a on par.

“This crowd and atmosphere is amazing.

“There is nowhere else like it,” he said of the thousands of fans packed into the Tom Flood Sports Centre.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Orions plan to take game to new level

THERE have been good wins against the best North-West country teams in the lead-up.
Nanjing Night Net

MIDDLED IT: Top order batsman Miles Barnard will need to do plenty of this if Devonport is to triumph against South Hobart-Sandy Bay in today’s Statewide T20 grand final. Picture: Jason Hollister.

But Devonport coach Stephen Lee knows his team will have to raise the bar again if they are to topple Southern powerhouse South Hobart Sandy Bay in this afternoon’s Statewide Twenty20 grand final.

The Orions are competing in their first major statewide final for many years, and Lee says his team will have to contend with a higher level of batting, bowling and fielding than what they have so far this campaign.

“We are probably going to need 130-140 with the bat just to be competitive as the Sharks bat pretty well,” Lee said.

“Everyone of them will be fairly aggressive when they bat, and I’m sure they will try and pressure our bowlers.”

“They’ll also bowl a better line and length than what we are generally used to, but with the ball coming on to bat quicker, it should suit our top order because they like to hit through the line.

“Obviously we will be underdogs but we’re okay with that.”

South Hobart Sandy Bay won’t be at full strength for today’s game, with George Bailey and Xavier Doherty with the Australian World Cup team, while Alex Doolan will be in transit after Tasmania’s Sheffield Shield loss in Sydney.

But they are still full of class players, such as former Latrobe batsman Trent Keep, who is coming off a big century in club cricket yesterday, and Tigers contract players Timm van der Gugten, Gabe Bell and Hamish Kingston.

The Orions also have a close connection with their opponents, having supplied them with 10 first grade players over the past two decades. Lee said a little bit of inside knowledge could come in handy, but is backing his team to perform on the big stage.

“But our top order is our key, with Miles Barnard and Brent Mullett our two best players.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.