Jake Bilardi’s apparent suicide in Iraq didn’t achieve anything in the battle he was fighting for Islamic State, an Iraqi military spokesman says.
While his death is unconfirmed, the jihadist group has released images of the Craigieburn teenager, claiming he blew himself up in a co-ordinated car suicide bomb attack in Ramadi, west of Baghdad on Wednesday.
But Iraqi military spokesman General Tahssin Ibrahim says although people had died in the wave of car bombings in Ramadi, Bilardi’s sacrifice had come to nothing.
Instead of the paradise he had been promised Bilardi had only found hell, General Ibrahim said.
“He never do anything, he just killed himself, he just destroy some cars,” he told ABC on Friday.
He warned young Australians not to travel to Iraq and put themselves in harm’s way.
“They are told that they come here go to paradise or something like that,” he said.
“Don’t do anything and put yourself in hell without any reason.”
It is reported that Bilardi frequented a Meadow Heights mosque as well as the Hume Islamic Youth Centre, but youth leaders, including a police multicultural liaison officer, say they have never come across the teen.
The local Muslim community is concerned about assumptions Bilardi became radicalised through his involvement with local mosques and youth groups, Senior Constable Shane Sahinkaya told AAP on Friday.
“They’re pretty keen to … stop misconceptions that he has come here and been radicalised,” Sen Cons Sahinkaya said.
“There’s a perception about the Muslim community that has been all wrong and it does concern the community and locals.”
While no one radicalises themselves, Bilardi comes pretty close, according to leading academic Professor Greg Barton.
He said Bilardi’s story was equally interesting and unusual, referring to a blog, believed to be written by the teen, that gives insight into his decision to join Islamic State.
It also explains his journey from atheist Melbourne schoolboy to a suicide bomber in Iraq.
“He started as a 13-year-old asking questions about international injustice and formed a radical position even before religion came into it,” Prof Barton told AAP on Friday.
“No one ever self-radicalises, but he comes close.”
The blog talks of plans of a suicide mission in Iraq and scoffs at suggestions Islamic State is using international members as propaganda.
“Unlike the Australian government’s laughable claim that we are used as cannon fodder … we live in the same tough conditions on the front lines and relax in the cities when the opportunity arises,” the blog also states.
The blog’s author is named only as Abdul Abdullah Al-Australi and it is unverified, but the contents closely match the story of Bilardi who left Australia to join the Islamic State in mid-2014.
Alarmingly, the blog also details a “Plan B” for attacks on Australian soil should the author have been unable to leave Australia.