The Kiwi man known as the “bumbling jihadi” has finally been classified a terrorist by the US State Department.
Former Hamilton man Mark John Taylor, also known as Muhammad Daniel and Abu Abdul-Rahman, has been active on social media for years, posting images of himself with weapons and calling for attacks on New Zealand.
He once made news for accidentally sharing his location when he didn’t turn off his phone’s tracking function.
Taylor’s been suspected of terror activity for a number of years, but has consistently denied he is a threat.
“He’s now been classified as a terrorist by the US State Department. I’m surprised this took so long because he’s been on the GCSB’s [Government Communications Security Bureau’s] watchlist for some time,” Newshub political reporter Lloyd Burr told The AM Show.
“He’s in Syria at the moment, he’s been fighting for Isis since 2014. He’s done lots of social media for them, calling for terror attacks right here in New Zealand.”
If Taylor now returns to New Zealand, he will be detained immediately. He could be deported back to New Zealand if he is caught in Syria.
He prayed at Hamilton’s Jamia Masjid mosque around eight years ago for two years. Mosque leader Dr Anwar Ghani condemns Taylors actions, but says when Taylor was part of their community, he didn’t pose a threat.
“He did not have any conversation with anyone in the community that could be… understood [to] have any link with those organisations,” Dr Ghani told Newshub.
Taylor is understood to have been radicalised in Australia. He has been banned from entering Australia and New Zealand.
Dr Ghani says he’s extremely saddened by the path Taylor has taken, but he doesn’t feel sorry for him.
“The ideology of Isis is never supported by any Muslim community in New Zealand, and hundreds of the scholars who have come out and stated against it that barbaric activities which is totally condemned by each and every Muslim I know of.”
In December 2014, Taylor tweeted: “I’m still alive and news update: I joined the Islamic State!”
In July 2014 then Prime Minister John Key told reporters he couldn’t go into details about how Taylor was able to leave New Zealand.
Asked if New Zealand’s intelligence agencies got it wrong with their surveillance of Taylor, he said: “I don’t think that’s an accurate assessment”.
In a statement released online in October 2014, Taylor said Mr Key should not send any New Zealand troops to Syria or Iraq “because only death is waiting for them”.