This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The All-Purpose Mujahid

"I'm currently in Syria as a member of al-Qaeda Central, working on their behalf with Jabhat al-Nusra. I embraced Islam in Afghanistan."
"I'm really happy to be here as a member of al-Qaeda, as a mujahid, but most importantly as a Muslim."
"Training tactically, working in small groups -- I hate to use the word 'commandos' -- high-standard infantry tactics, long-range patrols, reconnaissance patrols, ambushing, raids, sabotage, harassment behind enemy lines, reaction to combat, how to fight with the enemy in a guerrilla warfare scenario, targeting convoys, targeting installations behind enemy lines with no support, and so on."
"These were some of the things I trained in for a number of years with the Australian military, and then experienced for almost fifteen years in Afghanistan."
Matthew Stewart, aka Usama Hamza Australi
Former Australian soldier turned Al Qaeda member Mathew Stewart.
Supplied   Former Australian soldier turned Al Qaeda member Mathew Stewart

Vicki and Peter Stewart were informed by their son Matthew that he was embarked on a cultural-religious adventure. He planned a holiday for himself, in Afghanistan. So many young men from the West appear to inform their families that they plan to travel to the Middle East to enrich their minds. To discover more about Islam, to study it there, and to do it properly, in the language in which it was written, Arabic. The only way to truly understand Islam.

Of course, of late there have been other ways of studying Islam and becoming familiar with its precepts. Moving among jihadis dedicated to the requirement that as the faithful they must engage in what young men most enjoy doing, particularly those who have grown up within emotionally primitive societies for whom violence is a respected exchange between clans, tribes and religious sects, dedicating themselves to militant Islam.

Nothing like learning a new language by immersing completely within the cultural environment. Then and there, the colloquialisms become second nature, part of the camaraderie of a shared ideology and the excitement of taking risks and honing warfare skills. A satisfying lifestyle to those who pledge themselves to the duty that Islam calls them to, as martyrs to be honoured for their sacrifice. That the 'sacrifice' has its attractions is beside the point.

So here is Matthew Stewart, who grew up on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland in Australia, now transplanted to Syria, training combatants with Jabhat al-Nustra. From Australian soldier, introduced to fighting skills in East Timor, to senior al-Qaeda commander in Syria. Once an infantryman, now a seasoned 39-year-old al-Qaeda mujahid with all due respect hailing his efforts on behalf of the mission to regain Islam's former illustrious past.

He had vanished in 2001, and his parents and Australian authorities assumed he was dead. A private wake took place in 2004. Now his reality has come to light, available for scrutiny in the most recent edition of al-Qaeda's English-language online rag, Al Risalah, featuring an interview with a jihadist who just happens to have an Australian accent. But the former Matthew Stewart makes no secret of who he was in his former life.

He speaks of that, emphasizing his current situation as one fulfilling his needs and his aspirations. He is a 'somebody', with al-Qaeda in the most notorious cesspool of violent slaughter currently within the Middle East. But -- he has found his niche in life. What more could fond parents hope for on behalf of their aspiring child? And there is more to celebrate; they have a daughter-in-law, and they have two grandchildren.

Usama's parents may choose not to reject their son's identity on this occasion, as they preferred to do back in 2005 when, on viewing an al-Qaeda propaganda video with an armed balaclava-adorned militant with an Australian accent who issued a warning to the United States and Britain to withdraw their forces from Afghanistan and Iraq. While Australian authorities identified him, his family denied that identification.

Who wouldn't, after all. One man's fulfillment, a family's nightmare. Is this not what free will is all about?

Fadi al-Halabi / AFP, Getty Images
Fadi al-Halabi / AFP, Getty Images   Fighters from Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate Al-Nusra Front drive in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo flying Islamist flags as they head to a frontline, on May 26, 2015.

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