Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

Kiwi jihadist wants to leave Syria

Mohammad Daniel, also know as Abu Abdul Rahman, and formerly known as Mark John Taylor.
Mohammad Daniel, also know as Abu Abdul Rahman, and formerly known as Mark John Taylor.

A Kiwi jihadist who has links with al Qaeda and has taken up arms in Syria wants to leave the war-torn country -- but first needs a fresh New Zealand passport after burning his old one.

Mohammad Daniel, also know as Abu Abdul Rahman, and formerly known as Mark John Taylor, says war-torn Syria needs humanitarian aid rather than a bloody jihad.

He claims to have been in touch with the New Zealand government in a bid to get a new passport.

"They don't seem concern [sic] I'm in Syria," Mr Daniel wrote on Facebook from war-ravaged Aleppo.

Today, the Department of Internal Affairs refused to confirm the contact, saying it "does not discuss individual passport applications for privacy reasons".

A spokesman for New Zealand Intelligence Community -- an agency made up of the Government Communications Security Bureau, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet' National Assessments Bureau, and the Security Intelligence Service -- refused to comment on any specific case.

But it said that, in general, fighters taking part in or returning from any sort of conflict zone are a "concern for many countries, including New Zealand".

"We are aware of a small number of New Zealanders who have travelled to areas of conflict," the spokesman said.

"We strongly recommend that people do not travel to these areas."

In 2009, Mr Daniel was arrested by Pakistan authorities while trying to gain access to an al Qaeda and Taleban stronghold close to the Afghanistan border and was subsequently subjected to travel restrictions by the New Zealand government.

He left New Zealand again in May 2012, and lived in Indonesia for two years working as an English teacher.

In June this year, he entered Syria across the Turkish border.

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

Online, he claims to be an "adventurer living in Syria. I have no links to any groups. I'm independent, living under good care by Muslim brothers".

He has posted photographs of himself clutching machine guns and boasted of going on "patrol" and doling "guard duty".

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

Now, it appears he has changed his mind.

He told Aotearoa Independent Media Centre that he was planning to leave Syria "around late October".

He advised that while he had requested a new passport from the New Zealand government, he had no intention to return to his homeland.

Asked if he had broken any laws, he told Aotearoa Independent Media Centre: "No, I only went there for adventure Jihad, but along the way I realised Syria is in a very direct need of humanity aid and support."

Mr Daniels, who has spent several years living in Australia, was friends with another New Zealand radical, Muslim Bin John.

He travelled to see Mr John in Yemen in 2009, leading to him being recommended for travel restrictions.

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

- APNZ

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