“He was only 18, but traveled a road from atheism to Islamism to ISIS and self-immolation,” opens a recent article by The Daily Beast news website.
Was he really a philosopher? Or was he a pawn of ISIS? Or both?
“With my martyrdom operation drawing closer, I want to tell you my story, how I came from being an Atheist school student in affluent Melbourne to a soldier of the Khilafah preparing to sacrifice my life for Islam in Ramadi, Iraq. Many people in Australia probably think they know the story, but the truth is, this is something that has remained between myself and Allah (azza wa’jal) until now,” quotes The Daily Beast.
This was what appears to be one of the last in a series of blog posts written by Jake Bilardi. Bilardi was an 18-year-old Australian who died last Wednesday after driving an explosives-laden vehicle into a position held by the Iraqi Security Forces’ Eighth Brigade.
Immediately afterwards, fighters for the so-called Islamic State – also known as ISIS – uploaded images of Bilardi embarking upon his suicide operation, and he was identified as the unnamed teenage fighter who has, in recent months, been variously dubbed the “baby-faced mujahid” or the “emo jihadi.”
Since his identity became public, questions have arisen as to how a young and educated man like him could end up on the other side of the world fighting for ISIS, a group that routinely engages in the most abhorrent of war crimes.
In January 2015, a blogger calling himself Abu Abdullah al Australi (meaning he came from Australia) started writing a series of posts entitled “From the Eyes of a Muhajir [Immigrant].” It is impossible to identify the author definitively but he claims to be an 18-year-old convert from Melbourne.
The blogger also claims to have recently “register[ed] for a martyrdom operation” in Ramadi, Iraq, the city in which Bilardi—also known as Abu Abdullah al-Australi among ISIS supporters—is said to have died.
The Daily Beast states his blog has since been taken down and gave a rosy picture of his path toward “martyrdom” – and it may have been just as much of an advertisement for ISIS as a personal story.
(Updated post to correct title)