An expat New Zealander who has spent years fighting for Islamic State (Isis) has been declared a “global terrorist” by the US government.
Mark John Taylor, 42, is known as the “bumbling jihadi” after accidentally revealing his locations in the Middle East on social media during at least three years involved with Isis.
Taylor, originally from Hamilton, is believed to now be in Raqqa, Syria. He has previously urged Kiwis to carry out terrorist attacks.
US nationals are now “generally prohibited from engaging in transactions or dealings” with Taylor, and any property or property interests subject to United States jurisdiction will be frozen, although it’s not believed he had any such assets.
The US Embassy in Wellington said the list was “designed to restrict the resources of terrorists who seek to inflict significant harm”.
“Mark John Taylor has openly encouraged terrorist attacks in New Zealand and Australia. The United States is committed to doing all that we can to stop such attacks occurring,” a spokeswoman said.
“We are restricting the resources that this man could use to carry out his openly declared intent: doing significant harm to New Zealanders and others.”
Specially Designated Global Terrorists are “foreign persons determined to have committed, or pose a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of US nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States”, the State Department says.
The other men included on the list alongside Taylor were: El Shafee Elsheikh, a member of Isis’ execution cell; British extremist Anjem Choudary; Sami Bouras, a Swedish citizen of Tunisian descent, who is involved with planning suicide attacks; and Shane Dominic Crawford, a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago, who is an Islamic State fighter and English language propagandist.
TAYLOR COULD RETURN TO NZ
Taylor has been on the radar of New Zealand security officials since at least 2011.
He was known to have previously burnt his New Zealand passport. It was not clear if he now had any travel documents.
However, as a New Zealand citizen, he could apply for an emergency travel document, if he did wish to return to New Zealand.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade would not comment on Taylor’s designation as a terrorist, but a spokeswoman said: “As with any New Zealand citizen overseas, if they wish to return to New Zealand then a journey-specific emergency travel document can be issued,” she said.
“For privacy and security reasons we will not provide further details about the individual.”
WHO IS ‘BUMBLING’ JIHADI MARK TAYLOR?
Taylor has been based in the Middle East for several years, and has been on the New Zealand Government’s terror radar since at least 2011.
In 2009, he travelled to Pakistan and tried to enter the al-Qaeda stronghold of Wana.
In 2011, he was outed as one of 23 Australian-based residents on a security watchlist after a Wikileaks release.
That same year, then-New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said Taylor was “someone that has quite a number of restrictions on him for very good reasons”.
In July 2014, Taylor travelled to Syria, despite being monitored by New Zealand government agencies. He said he would remain in Syria until he achieved martyrdom.
In spite of his terrorist connections, Taylor remains an avid social media user. In the past, he has used his online accounts to announce he’d burned his New Zealand passport and to encourage others to wage jihad on Anzac Day.
In 2015, he accidentally gave away the coordinates of Islamic State fighters on Twitter.
Taylor failed to turn off the location service on his Twitter account, thereby identifying his whereabouts every time he tweeted.
Taylor also has a LinkedIn profile, under the name Muhammad Daniel, that lists his occupation as an education management professional, and says he is living in the Islamic State.
He said he has been teaching English to children between the ages of 5 and 12 in Raqqa since 2014, and was “teaching with a puppet and enjoyed having fun with the students”.
“Living in the heart of the Islamic State is a good experience and I encourage others to come and see for themselves.”
He added: “There’s no danger here and a great place to bring up the family. Except Western Jet fighters that always drop bombs on Civilians!”