An Australian teenager who ran away to join the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Iraq apparently praised the January terrorist attack against the Paris-based satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Eighteen-year-old Melbourne student Jake Bilardi converted to Islam in 2014 and is thought to have become radicalized shortly afterward. The teenager was initially wrongly identified as British after a photograph of him holding a rifle and kneeling in front of a black Islamic State flag circulated on the Internet in December.
Before going to Iraq, Bilardi apparently expressed his increasingly radical views on Twitter.
Sydney man Zaky Mallah told The Age that he is certain that Bilardi was the Twitter user known as "abu khattab australi" who tweeted under the handle @Abuaustral. The user behind the @Abuaustral account, which has recently been suspended, described himself as "tall, white, skinny, long hair" and as having attended the Hume Islamic Youth Center in Melbourne before going to Ramadi in Iraq, according to The Age.
Some of the tweets sent from the account were noted in a January 7 blog post by the Site Intelligence group, which tracks terrorism and extremism.
The tweets related to the January 7 terrorist shootings at Charlie Hebdo, which was known for its controversial depictions of the Prophet Muhammad. Twelve people died in the assault.
Site noted that the "abu khattab australi" account tweeted that "There can be no condemnation of this attack on #CharlieHebdo. 100% Islamic whoever says otherwise is a clear liar."
In an earlier tweet, the user wrote of the attack that "Allah (swt) defends the honor of his messenger and so do the believers."
The @Abuaustrali account had also tweeted in support of the December siege at the Lindt Cafe in Martin Place in Sydney, according to The Age. The account tweeted to Australian Federal Police, telling them to "keep going, Martin Place was just the beginning for you dogs."
Other reports say that the account linked to Bilardi made threats to "make 9/11 look like child's play."
-- Joanna Paraszczuk