An ex-girlfriend of a Melbourne man reportedly killed in Syria has come forward saying he was a party animal who used Islam as an excuse for violence.
Mahmoud Abdullatif, dubbed the “playboy jihadi”, left his Coburg home in the second half of last year to join terror group ISIL in Syria.
He was followed to Syria by Melbourne woman Zehra Duman, who married him in December last year.
It is now believed he has been killed after Duman posted tributes to him online this week.
His former girlfriend, Sashini Senadeera, 21, told Fairfax Media he was aggressive, popular and loved clubbing and dating women, despite claiming to be staunchly religious.
“I think he liked the extreme culture of Islam and I think he just wanted to be a part of the violence,” Ms Senadeera said.
“I think for him Islam was just an excuse to behave like that.”
Abdullatif was reportedly kicked out of Brunswick Secondary College in Melbourne’s north in Year 11 for failing class and causing damage to a neighbouring school.
After Abdullatif’s father and uncle reportedly urged him to change his ways he enrolled in a trade course and attended a mosque more often, but continued to party, Ms Senadeera said.
“He never really changed but he just wanted to show people that he was extreme. I think a lot of them just get bored and want that life over there.
“It’s kind of weird… he was always a proud Muslim and they (his school friends) hated all other religions… but the thing is he still went to parties and had a lot of girls around him so I guess it was kind of double standard.
“I think he had a kind of tunnel vision, like people who follow religious teachings too practically.”
After moving to Syria, Abdullatif posted images online of himself and young children holding weapons.
His uncle by marriage is Hany Taha, who was linked with a 2005 plot to blow up the MCG and other targets across Melbourne and Sydney masterminded by convicted terrorist Abdul Nacer Benbrika.
Mr Taha was acquitted at trial.
A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade could not confirm whether Abdullatif had been killed as there was no longer consular assistance in Iraq or Syria due to the “extremely dangerous security situation” in the region.
“Reports such as this are a reminder to would-be foreign terrorist fighters that Australians joining terrorist groups such as ISIL are being exploited,” the spokesperson said, adding those involved in conflicts there are “only add to the suffering in Syria and Iraq, and are putting their own lives in mortal danger”.
The Attorney General’s Department would not confirm whether Abdullatif had been killed, stating it was longstanding practice not to comment on specific security or intelligence matters.
A spokesperson for the department said at least 20 have been killed in the conflict in Syria and Iraq but details surrounding the deaths were limited.
“We know there are some young Australians and others who think they’ve made the right choice in becoming involved in overseas conflicts, but that choice only adds to the suffering in Syria and Iraq – and it’s putting those young Australians themselves in mortal danger,” the spokesperson said.
“It will usually be families, friends and local communities who are the first to see changes in a person who is radicalising or thinking about travelling to participate in a foreign conflict.”