“After an apparent religious epiphany, Baryalei started attending his local mosque, grew his beard and began following Muslim preachers on YouTube.” Eventually he joined the Islamic State and got involved with the recent jihad terror plot in Australia. One thing mainstream analysts of Islam and terrorism and people like John Kerry never bother to explain is how people who develop a “passion for Islam” end up involved in groups that are, in the mainstream view, so obviously un-Islamic.
“‘He liked cocaine, loved women and could be violent’: Australian terror leader Mohamed Ali Baryalei worked at a strip club before he turned to radical Islam,” by Emily Crane, Daily Mail Australia, September 23, 2014:
The alleged ringleader of a plot to execute a random person on Australian soil was once a drug-abusing strip club worker in Sydney’s notorious Kings Cross who loved gambling, women and cocaine.
Mohammad Ali Baryalei, who is now Australia’s most senior Islamic State leader, worked as a spruiker outside a strip club owned by Kings Cross identity John Ibrahim before he turned to radical Islam.
Before he allegedly started recruiting Australians to fight in Syria and Iraq, the 33-year-old from Sydney was once a womaniser who mixed with gangsters and suspected drug dealers, according to the ABC’s 7.30 program.
‘He was a big party animal,’ a former friend told the program.
‘He drank a lot, was a big smoker, he liked drugs, loved women and could be violent.
‘He gambled a lot … He once won $8,000 or $9,000 on the pokies, then played it back down… and he loved cocaine.’
Through lawyers on Tuesday, John Ibrahim denied owning the strip club Baryalei worked at.
Mr Ibrahim also denied knowing or having any involvement with Baryalei.
Baryalei’s former friend said he became increasingly troubled as time went on and he developed a ‘moral dilemma’, which prompted his obsession for Islam.
Police allege Baryalei was the catalyst behind last Thursday’s counter-terrorism raids that saw more than 800 police raid multiple homes in Sydney and Brisbane.
The raids were sparked when police allegedly intercepted a phone call from Baryalei to Sydney 22-year-old Omarjan Azari, which detailed the plot to execute a random Australian on camera.
Baryalei, who went from being an Afghan refugee to senior Islamic State militant, had a deeply troubled upbringing with years of physical abuse and mental illness.
His family fled Afghanistan in 1981 when he was just 40 days old and they arrived at Sydney’s Villawood Detention Centre when he was seven.
He was raised in Sydney’s northwest and attended Terra Sancta Catholic High School, but his father became violent and abusive towards him.
Baryalei suffered bouts of depression as a teenager and even spoke of suicide when he was unemployed in 2009.
After an apparent religious epiphany, Baryalei started attending his local mosque, grew his beard and began following Muslim preachers on YouTube.
Baryalei was shown in a number of YouTube videos himself traipsing around the streets of south-western Sydney with a microphone and purportedly attempting to convert random people to Islam.
As his passion for Islam developed, Baryalei gained a following of young men and police later found out he was secretly recruiting followers to fight in Syria.
In April last year Baryalei left Australia for the Middle East to initially join Al Qaeda group Jabhat Al Nusra.
But within two months he switched to rival militant group, the Islamic State, where he gained a trusted position and quickly became the key intermediary for scores of Australians taking up arms.
Neighbours of Baryalei’s mum told The Australian she had no idea her son was involved with militant groups until police raided their family home at Quakers Hill last December.
‘She thought her son was over there studying,’ the neighbour said.
‘After her house was raided, she said they must be mistaken, her son would never do anything wrong.’
Baryalei is believed to be currently in the Syrian city of Raqqa in a protected location, according to the newspaper.
The Australian Federal Police have an arrest warrant out for Baryalei.