Bevan Hurley

Bevan Hurley is the Herald on Sunday chief reporter.

New Zealander joins fight in Syria

Kiwi jihadist burns his NZ passport, vows to fight to achieve 'martyrdom'

Taylor says the NZ govt is aware of his arrival in Syria.
Taylor says the NZ govt is aware of his arrival in Syria.

A Kiwi with links to al-Qaeda has taken up arms in Syria and says he will fight until he becomes a martyr.

Mark John Taylor has burnt his New Zealand passport and says he has already been involved in fighting for the rebels in the war-torn Middle Eastern country.

It's the latest journey for the jihadist, who has been arrested in Pakistan, interrogated by security services, and travelled around the globe despite Prime Minister John Key claiming he was under travel restrictions.

Taylor, also known as Mark John al-Rahman and Abu Abdul-Rahman, told the Herald on Sunday that he would remain in Syria until he achieved "martyrdom".

On Facebook, he proudly displayed his burnt New Zealand passport and declared he was on a "one-way trip" with no intention of returning home.

Taylor said he left New Zealand in May 2012, and lived in Indonesia for two years working as an English teacher.

"I come to Syria as a Soldier for Allah," he told the Herald on Sunday.

"Yes jihad, since I was refused by the NZ Army for re-enlistment. I'm currently with no group and have no plans to join any groups. I have been told that I can be independent as I wish."

He arrived in Syria last week.

Since arriving in Syria, he has posted pictures of himself in New Zealand army attire next to a recent picture of him in Islamic attire holding an AK47.

He said the New Zealand Government were aware of his arrival in Syria, and mocked the intelligence agencies which he believed were monitoring him.

"What does nzsis stand for? Nonsense Zionist Staff internet stalking," he wrote.

Taylor told how he had travelled to Yemen in 2009 to visit another New Zealand radical, Muslim Bin John, for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Bin John and Australian Christopher Havard, who were suspected of links to al-Qaeda splinter group AQAP, were killed in a drone strike last November.

The Herald on Sunday revealed last month a Kiwi was believed to have died in fighting in Syria. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade provided consular assistance to his family, who asked for privacy.

The Australian revealed earlier this week that Taylor had gone to Syria to engage in jihad.

"My current location is in Syria and my commitment is for jihad for Allah and his Messenger," he said in the video.

In a 2011 interview with 60 Minutes, Taylor denied he was a terrorist and said he had been looking for a wife.

The same year, John Key said "quite a number of restrictions" had been placed on Taylor, who was among a list of 23 Australian-based people placed on US travel alert systems.

- Herald on Sunday

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf01 at 30 Dec 2014 05:47:34 Processing Time: 44ms