Four sons lured into hands of death cult: Family left distraught

The Daily Telegraph, Australia/November 2014

By Simon Benson and Linda Silmalis

The distraught mother of four western Sydney brothers who have slipped out of Australia to join the IS death cult has pleaded for their return.

The woman and her husband sounded the alarm after the brothers, one of who was still at school, failed to return home with authorities now searching for them in Turkey in the hope they have not yet crossed the border into Syria.

The Australian-born brothers, one whom was still at school, told their parents they were going on holiday in Thailand and their mother drove them to the airport.

The siblings plotted their mission while living at home with their Lebanese-born mother, taxidriver father and a teenage sister. A fifth brother recently moved out of home after getting married.

The mother said in a statement that she hoped her sons would be found.

“You haven’t done anything wrong,” she said.

“Please come back.

“Please come home.”

Authorities have scoured the Sydney home for clues to the boys’ recruiters, after being alerted to their disappearance early last week, and are searching for them in Turkey amid hopes they have not yet crossed the border into Syria.

The Telegraph has learned that the brothers from southwest Sydney — completely unknown to intelligence and police agencies who have labelled them “cleanskins” — had told their parents they were going on holiday to Thailand.

All four, aged 17, 23, 25 and 28, are now suspected of having crossed into Syria to join the terror cult that calls itself ­Islamic State and which Australian military forces are now engaged in trying to destroy.

Authorities were alerted to the loss of yet another four Sydney men to the terrorist group on Saturday when the family called a member of the local community after failing to hear from them for several days.

The intermediary then called Immigration Minister Scott Morrison on behalf of the family, seeking his help. But the call came too late. The four young men had already left Sydney and had ­arrived in the Middle East.

Mr Morrison confirmed he had received a call and said he immediately contacted the head of Customs to locate the brothers to see if they could be retrieved. It was discovered they had flown to Turkey and had not been heard from since. It is suspected they have since crossed into Syria.

Mr Morrison also alerted the Australian Federal Police, which has now admitted it had been completely in the dark with no intelligence linking the four to terrorist groups.

Their invisibility to the intelligence net meant they had not been on any watch list that could have alerted border control officers to prevent them leaving. The family was said to be “distraught”.

“Four young boys, brothers, have been stolen from them by this cult,” Mr Morrison said.

“And Australia has lost yet another four young kids. This is why we are so adamant in trying to prevent people leaving to join these foreign fighters.

“Some of those going over there are thugs and criminals. No one is going to shed a tear for the likes of Khaled Sharrouf or Mohamed Elomar. But many are young kids, Australian sons, who become indoctrinated.”

He urged the community and families to call the national hotline (1800 123400) if they feared anyone they knew had fallen prey to terrorist recruiters.

The rise of the “clean-skin” foreign fighter has raised fears innocent but impressionable young Sydney men are being indoctrinated at such a rapid rate that they are invisible to national security and intelligence agencies.

The AFP’s counter-terrorism chief confirmed this week they had not been aware of the group until after they had left.

Originally published as Mum drove terror boys to airport.

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