Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Lonely man finds home in Islam, then ISIS

21 May 2015, 06:59

Wellington - Before he left New Zealand, Mark Taylor spoke with a local television network. "I've been lonely all my life," he said. "Been rejected by people. Used by people. Abused by people."

He said that by converting to Islam, he felt he'd become part of a community.

"Because the good thing about being Muslim is you can walk into virtually any mosque and pray," he told TV3 News, "and people would welcome you."

When Taylor, 42, began visiting a mosque in the city of Hamilton about four years ago, worshippers there saw him as lonely, a little lost and possessing a childlike view of the world. They didn't see any anger or radicalism in the security guard who said he was a former army soldier.

And so they were not only appalled but also worried for him when he resurfaced last year in Syria, describing himself as an adventurer and posting social media messages under the Twitter handle "Kiwi Jihadi".

Authorities estimate only half-a-dozen New Zealanders have travelled to Syria to fight with Islamic State. It's unclear how they've become radicalised, although Taylor's case might provide a clue: He's acknowledged listening to the sermons of the late US-born al-Qaeda preacher Anwar al-Awlaki.

When Taylor, who also goes by the names Muhammad Daniel and Abu Abdul-Rahman, arrived in Hamilton, mosque elder Mustafa Farouk said he and others tried to help. Farouk said they allowed Taylor to park the old truck he lived in near the mosque and offered to find him accommodation and mental-health services. But he said Taylor wanted to remain independent and declined their offers.

If Taylor had radical thoughts, Farouk said, he kept them to himself.

"The only thing he ever talked about was wanting to get married," Farouk said. "He didn't seem like he could pose any danger to anyone at all. More that he might need someone to look after him, really."

How Taylor managed to leave New Zealand — despite being closely monitored — has raised questions about the effectiveness of the country's intelligence and immigration agencies.

Also Read: Air strikes in Syria kill at least 170 ISIS militants - monitor

He had been arrested in 2009 in proximity to al-Qaida militants in the Pakistani region of Waziristan. He told authorities he was there looking for a bride, and was later released.

Diplomatic cables leaked to Wikileaks show Australian authorities recommended in 2010 that Taylor be placed on a watch list because of his "demonstrated connections" with al-Awlaki. In 2011, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said a number of unspecified restrictions had been placed on Taylor.

But Farouk said he managed to leave a couple of years ago for Indonesia, where he lived and worked before traveling to Syria.

New Zealand authorities, citing privacy concerns, declined to answer questions from the AP about how Taylor managed to depart, or to say whether he had served as a soldier.

His Twitter profile says he is "in Dawlah Islam, Islamic state," though his current status is unclear. In April, he posted a video calling on Islamic State supporters in New Zealand and Australia who have had their passports confiscated to commit terrorist acts at home, "even if it means you have to stab a few police officers or soldiers."

- AP


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...