From 'saving babies' to terrorist recruitment drive
TWO years ago former Mackay doctor Tareq Kamleh was posing for ISIS in a pristine hospital claiming to be saving babies in Syria - but now he has appeared in a new propaganda video, urging Muslims living in the west to join the fight in Syria or Iraq or to take action at home.
A heavily bearded Dr Tareq Badawi Kamleh holds an assault rifle, and is dressed in an armoured uniform in the new propaganda video urging Muslims to join Islamic State in their cause against the West.
Dr Kamleh, a paediatric doctor, worked at Mackay Base Hospital for 10 months in 2013.
"It really surprises me of how the Muslim nation is acting at the moment and how stagnant you have become," Dr Kamleh says in the video, reportedly filmed in the Syrian city of Raqqa.
"We are under continuous bombing here and we are fighting hard to hold the lands of Islam, and hold that only the law of Allah is implemented in these lands.
"And if you can't make a way to come and make hijrah, you can't come here - jihad itself isn't only in the lands of Syria or only in the lands of Iraq."
Police confirmed the former paediatrics registrar was the subject of an ongoing investigation and that if he returned to Australia authorities would seek to arrest him immediately on terror charges.
It is the second known time Dr Kamleh has featured in a propaganda video for Islamic State; he was filmed in a hospital caring for children injured by Coalition strikes in 2015.
The South Australian Joint Counter Terrorism Team obtained a warrant for Dr Kamleh's arrest during a closed-court hearing in 2015 which police confirmed remained in force.
But Australian authorities could only bring Dr Kamleh to justice if he returns as they could not go into Syria or forcibly bring him home.
In 2015, after news of the arrest warrant and the possibility that the Australian Government could cancel his passport, Dr Kamleh posted on Facebook that he no longer considered himself as an Australian.
Heavily redacted court documents released to The Adelaide Advertiser by the Australian Federal Police in 2015 provided insight into the counter-terrorism case against Dr Kamleh.
They alleged his involvement with fundamentalist extremism began around the time he moved from Mackay, in Queensland, to Perth in WA.
"Up until 2013, Kamleh was living a lifestyle not consistent with what would be described as a practising Muslim," they assert.
Statements from former colleagues to Fairfax media said it was during a camping trip out of Mackay that they believed Dr Kamleh changed from a non-practising Muslim to radical Muslim. It was reported they said he stopped having sex, grew facial hair, stopped seeing his friends and stopped drinking alcohol.
But in a letter Dr Kamleh sent to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency in 2015, he denied being recruited during that camping trip.
Dr Kamleh said the fishing trip to Cape York was with friends he had known in Adelaide for 10 years.
"Which consisted of two truckies with their wives, and a male nurse - all non-Muslim Caucasian Australia," he wrote in the letter. "(There are) many photos of big fish and beautiful beaches to go with it. I don't think even they knew they were 'expert recruiters'. I made a very well educated and calculated decision to come here, it did not involve any brainwashing.
"I have come here as there are locals suffering from normal medical conditions despite being surrounded by war, with an overt lack of qualified medical care. Is it not my humanitarian duty to help these children also, or only kids with white skin and blue passports."
The AFP papers accuse Dr Kamleh of actively recruiting for ISIS by appearing in its propaganda material and breaching other federal anti-terror laws.
The warrant authorises the doctor's arrest on charges of:
Membership of a terrorist organisation, contrary to Section 102.3 of the Federal Criminal Code Act (1995).
Recruiting for a terrorist organisation, contrary to Section 102.4 of the same act.
Entering or remaining in a declared area, contrary to Section 119.2 of the act.
Justice Minister Michael Keenan said the Government was aware of the latest extremist propaganda video but that Australia's national terrorism threat level remained at probable.
"ISIL regularly calls for attacks against the West, and this is not the first time they have called for attacks against Australia or have named Australians in their videos," he said.
"This video may appeal to the small cohort of Australia-based Islamist extremists as it reinforces their existing ideology. However, a single piece of propaganda in isolation is unlikely to be the catalyst for an onshore attack.
"Anyone fighting with, providing material support to or associating with ISIL, or other terrorist groups, is committing a serious crime, and will face the full extent of the law, which includes life imprisonment."