Mother denies son is masked terrorist on tape

BRISBANE - The mother of a missing Australian man has denied her son is the person pictured in a video shown on Arab television threatening terror attacks against the west.

Vicki Stewart, who last saw her son Mathew Stewart in August 2001, today released a statement through a spokesman after being contacted by the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

AFP officers questioned the Stewart family, who live on the Sunshine Coast, following the broadcast of the video on the Dubai-based Al Arabiya satellite channel.

The video showed a masked man, speaking in what appears to be an Australian accent, warning of further terror attacks against the west and boasting about the killing of US troops in Afghanistan.

"The Stewart family said that they had been contacted by the federal police," the spokesman said.

"Mrs Stewart had been shown photos, and advised the federal police that it definitely was not Mathew.

"The family supports the work done by the federal police and is still grieving over Mathew who disappeared without a trace four years ago."

Mr Stewart, a former private with the 2nd battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment, has not been heard from since going overseas after being delisted in April 2001.

He had reportedly converted to Islam.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) is investigating the authenticity of the tape.

In the video, the masked man, wearing combat gear and holding an automatic rifle says: "The honourable sons of Islam will not just let you kill our families in Palestine, Afghanistan, Kashmir and the Balkans, Indonesia, the Caucasus and elsewhere".

"It is time for us to be equals. As you kill us, you'll be killed. As you bomb us, you will be bombed."

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has said the tape looks authentic and while it is hard to judge the man's nationality, he may be Australian.


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