Australia’s government is trying to confirm that an Australian teenager was among Islamic State suicide bombers in central Iraq. PM Tony Abbott called the reports “absolutely horrific”.
The Islamic State group claimed in an online statement that it used foreign fighters from Australia, Belgium, Syria and Uzbekistan in near-simultaneous attacks in Ramadi, Anbar’s provincial capital. Two soldiers were killed and eight wounded.
Sources in Syria have tweeted images which purport to come from an Islamic State propaganda video of the attack.
Multiple prominent jihadi Twitter pages, as well as the Australian media, have reported that Jake Bilardi, an Australian teenager known as “Jihadi Jake”, launched a suicide attack.
A pale-skinned man who resembles Bilardi, and is reported as him across Australian media, is pictured in the driving seat of a white van, thought to be a vehicle-based IED.
An Islamic State Twitter account also posted a “martyrdom” image of Bilardi sat underneath a jihadi flag, which fits with how previous reports of suicide attacks were released.
Commenting on the reports, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said: “It shows the lure, the lure of this death cult to impressionable youngsters, and it’s very, very important that we do everything we can to try to safeguard our young people against the lure of this shocking alien and extreme ideology.”
There is no way to confirm the authenticity of the images which were distributed by Islamic State propaganda sources.
But the suicide attack is thought to have happened in Ramadi, Iraq, where Islamists are currently fighting the Iraqi army.
Iraq army sources said that Islamic State had launched a co-ordinated attack against army positions in government-controlled areas, using seven simultaneous car-bombs.
— Zaid Benjamin (@zaidbenjamin) March 11, 2015