There’s been a lot of coverage of my interview with Australian combat medic Abu Ousama or Abu Safiyah shown on Channel Seven, Australia it was subsequently picked up by all the major Australian broadcasters and newspapers including the Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and so forth. The exclusive reached the Australian prime ministers office.
Sharif Alnimer was based in Idlib province had been in contact with various rebel battalions including ISIS before joining Jund al-Aqsa, an off shoot of Jabhat al-Nusra. I met him in Taftanaz where he lived with his wife. My first impression of the man was his affability and friendliness. It was clear that he was loved by the men, Arab or non- Arab because of this quality. When he described himself as a true blue Aussie that is the only way I can describe him.
Alnimer described himself as a combat medic and was involved in the local hospitals. Although the press reported that he had died in an air strike in September 2015, Telegram channels reported his death much earlier by several months. It is believed he died in Fua after coming under regime attack.
Alnimer was 27, a Sydney youth worker linked to Community Youth Centre in Campbelltown where alleged Islamic State (IS) recruiter Hamdi Alqudsi was also an active member.
Below is the full transcript.
Q: Where are you from sir?
A: Born raised, true blue Aussie.
Q: What on Earth are you doing here in Syria? What does Australia have anything to do with the Syrian conflict?
A: Australia had nothing to do with the Syrian conflict – until now. Still has nothing to do with the Syrian conflict maybe that’s why so many people were able to come from Australia without too many problems at the start. As it happens to be Australia is getting involved now, I don’t know this Abbott blokes come in and wants to getting involved with bringing his troops out, of course Australia is going to get involved. Of course Australia at the start wasn;t involved and isn’t involved no-one from here has any problems with anyone from Australia at all – so far that is.
Q: Australian politicians believe Australian fighters are a threat to Australia. Do you think this is correct?
A: I don’t believe that Australians that are here are a threat to Australia at all. Australians that are here are here because of Bashar. Bashar is coming in – he’s killing these people. He’s killing innocents. If Australia is going to come in and support him in any way to kill these innocent people and we say every day they are our brothers and sisters. If he’s going to IN ANY WAY SUPPORT THAT THEN AUSTRALIA HAS SOMETHING TO WORRY ABOUT. They’re aiding someone that is fighting and being a part of terrorizing and destroying these lives. At the moment Australia is not getting involved and Australia has nothing to do with it – if you’ve done nothing wrong why should you be afraid?
Q: Now you have a coalition happening where Australia might get involved. What is going to be the impact?
A: If Australia does get involved it is obviously going to put a bad taste in the people’s mouths – the hatred that has been here for the last three years that Bashar and his army will be on his people the same hatred will be on anyone hating him and supporting him. If Australia is going to get involved with its aeroplanes or simply just with its words it’s going to immediately put this feeling in the hearts of not just the Australians who are here but anyone who is upset to see the sight that we are seeing.
Every day we are seeing the body parts of little kids, you’re seeing women and children getting shredded up. Anyone that is seeing this is going to get upset and is going to have hatred toward anyone who is associated with this tyoe of work. So Australia getting involved, thinking it is stopping the issue is to me in my eyes is going to cause more problems.
That old saying goes keep your friends close but your enemies closer. If Australia does believe Muslims are its enemy you should bring them close to you without pushing them away. So far Australia is a new country. 500 years it hasn’t caused any problems. It did in Iraq a bit but it pulled out and cleaned its face looked we’re all sweet. You hardly have any problems with terrorist attacks. The last thing you want to see is
Aussies. Turn into… It will cause a lot of problems. The first time the Cronulla riots happened it was good because the Government had nothing to do with it – it was civilians against civilians it was good. The Government dealt with it in a couple of days. But once you have the Australian Government coming in and raiding people’s houses with no excuse or starting to put force the same way Bashar started with his country I know that for sure – number one Australians themselves. Once they see these things won’t stand for it….
The true blue Aussie the one that’s a good bloke. Jack and Bob. They won’t stand for it. They know that Mohammed down the street Mohammed at my work is a top bloke is a good bloke why would they come and do that to them. They’ll stand with him Knowing the Aussies – the ay they are they will actually a huge number will stand side-by-side with them against these new laws. They are unjust. That is one of the good attributes about the Australians, whenever they see something that is unjust they will stand against it.
Q: Do you hate Australia?
A: How can I hate Australia? I haven’t seen anything from Australia to hate Australia. It hasn’t done anything wrong to me. It has stood next to America through its times of causing trouble and that but there is no hatred between me and Australia and home is home. Everyone is going to love their country.
Q: What do you miss?
A: Other than the coco pops. Home and the whole lifestyle there. Work is that good in Australia you wake up and want to go to work. It will be sad to see if Australian troops cause trouble with other countries, which they don’t need to be a part of. America doesn’t need Australia to stand next to it. America is big enough to understand its own dramas. Australia doesn’t have to stand next to America and take all the hatred people have for America and it will rub off on Australia. So Australia has a good name.
Q: If we have American and Australian allies walking into Iraq and Australia – will you fight them?
A: It comes down to how they come in if they come in and they want to stop the fighting. But if they’re go0ing to come in with aeroplanes and shoot missiles and kill innocents. You’re forced to….I don’t see how Australians coming in will help. Help by putting pressure on the Syrian Government to stop. Allow people to come and help. It’s like a bully coming into your house. A bully comes into your house you’re going toi stop him, not excess force, he’s got nothing to do with coming into your house Enough to keep him out and that’s it. If it comes down to it… it’s called self-defence it’s not called terrorism or anything like that.
Q: A lot of people are going to say you’ll be a danger because you’ve been radicalized you’ve experienced war probably learned how to make bombs. Do you accept that as an assessment?
A: I think it’s the opposite after you see the destruction of housing and buildings you hate war. You hate everything about it. You start to appreciate the day you can go to sleep without thinking maybe I should sleep outside. The whole atmosphere of it becomes something you don’t want to see. You don’t want that happening. You want a place of peace.
You don’t want trouble coming to Australia. Which is why I’m sad to see Australia coming to a place it doesn’t need to be because it will cause a reaction.
Q: Do you regret coming here?
A: My job started with aid. We started handing out aid to refugees. But it didn’t satisfy that you helped the people. So you wanted to go to that next step – next step, you’re coming in even coming in and giving poor people didn’t satisfy you. Until you see a little kid Seven Year old and rockets hit from an aeroplane. Grabbing him rushing him to the hospital whatever he needs. That’s when you feel you’ve done something. It is hard and you think I’d like to be back in safety. You can’t remove that feeling that you might have saved someone’s life.
Q: What’s an average day?
Average day for a fighter is sitting in the sun sun baking…going from that to fighting. That was the hardest. If there was no battle on there was nothing to do. I enjoyed training the brothers with fitness etc. Even though it was hard… it was. Fajar – Koran lesson etc etc Half an hour jog going back having breakfast 9am leave house go to local hospital 9am to 3pm do the work – change wounds etc – etc and then come back, you’ll come back.
The group we’re in will do as much as they can. Which is hard, because you don’t know. Coming from Australia and having the Aussie dollar behind you has helped me until now. And it’s been just over a year and a bit that I’ve been here. But is has reached that point tat I think maybe I shouldn’t spend so much here. It is sad because you remember the times you could always give. Now you’re helping with your hands you lose that ability to open your wallet.
Q. What does your family think?
A: Any family would be upset – nobody wants you to go that war torn country. Proud to see their son or husband is helping make a difference for the people.
Q: What will happen when you die?
A: What I hope will happen I hope Allah accepts the good we have done and blesses us with the reward for the highest paradise, now war no pain no suffering and this is the best. What more could you want? Seeing Allah’s face.
Q: Is this about saving lives or is this about establishing Sharia?
When people (muffled)… it always came down to loving them and the beauty in… A lot of me coming here was for me to help the people for me to make them feel, I think am I better than them. I think I am fortunate to be raised in Australia – are they? That love that causes you to want to help is the same love that wants you to power the world to have Islam because that’s the only thing that is going to prevent the whole world from having any wars is if everyone wants Islam and wants Islam and lets Islam take over their lives.
Q: What about these beheadings?
A: You have these beheadings – some people might call them barbaric. Some people might have all these names for them. What is the difference between a missile that comes into a house which kills 15 kids compared to a man dying getting cut by his throat. That missile whether it is America or Bashar in the end it is causing the same death – in the end death is death.
Islam is supposed to stand for justice – yes death is the same – people are going to not accept it as the same. Why should they bear the sin of the crime of the bombings?–
There is no answer that is going to satisfy the person – but you look at history when Australia first started, it’s a new country – when Australia first started. How many people did it have to kill to make its state:? It went through not just hundreds but hundreds of thousands to rise up and say we’re a state. We want this land, we’ve taken this land – we’re a state. No-one is really standing next to the Syrians in this country. No-one is standing next to the Syrians. So you have this body whether its ISIS that have taken this role of protecting the innocent Muslims of this land so they have to do what they need to do to have this Islamic State – they have the power, if they’r eblackmailing America don’t shoot a missile – for one bloke. How can we say that’s even equivalent to it being a wrong.
The guys, they’re going to send ho many planes for one person dying. One beheading whether its 50 or 100. It’s not even equivalent. There hasn’t been one state. Let America how much people it has to kill before it could say United States of America. How much people Australia killed. Once ISIS have reached that limit then start counting themn for every person they’ve killed to build their state. Hasn’t even been one or two perscent just to call Australia Australia.
Q: Why specifically with this battalion?
There was a process when you took up the gun – a training camp, what was that process. At that stage, I got injured. Five months not being able to work it was Jund al-Aqsa that picked me up fixed me up – more of a strategic pull out as we pulled out.