‘Kiwi Jihadi’ fled ‘unbearable life’ with ISIS

New Zealand has it’s own problem with what to do about someone who got involved with ISIS in Syria. In the first instance, apparently nothing, although Mark Taylor is a New Zealand citizen so we may end up being stuck with him.

RNZ: ‘Kiwi Jihadi’ in Syria will have to find his own way out – Ardern

Nicknamed the ‘Kiwi Jihadi’, Mark Taylor told the ABC he fled the Islamic State group in December and surrendered to Kurdish forces because life had become unbearable.

In 2009, he was arrested in Pakistan for trying to gain access to Al Qaeda.

In 2010, he was deported by ASIO after he was assessed as being a security risk. Taylor had lived in Australia on and off for 25 years.

In 2015, the US government declared Taylor a global terrorist after he encouraged attacks in Australia and New Zealand and appeared in an IS propaganda video.

Taylor said he would be surprised if New Zealand did not take him back.

“If they do take me back, most probably I’ll be spending a couple of years in jail,” he said.

Is that optimism? I don’t know what he could be charged with if he comes back to New Zealand.

And he had an apology, of sorts, for his home country.

“I’m sorry for causing too much trouble and being a bit hot-headed and flamboyant in my approach… I don’t know if I can go back to New Zealand, but at the end of the day it’s really something I have to live with for the rest of my life.”

Joining and fighting with a  group with a despicable war and human rights record is a bit more than “a bit hot-headed and flamboyant”.

Ms Ardern and Justice Minister Andrew Little would not be drawn on the specifics of the case at a post-cabinet press conference today but said they had warned New Zealanders of the risks.

“New Zealand has made it very clear from the outset that New Zealanders should not travel to Syria. Further, it is clear that it is unlawful to join and fight with a terrorist organisation as Mark Taylor has done.”

His actions in joining IS and travelling to Syria to fight for them has created potential for legal ramifications in New Zealand, she 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 under Section 23 of the Passports Act 1992.”

The absence of New Zealand diplomatic representation in Syria meant the ability of the government to assist any citizens there was “severely limited”, Ms Ardern said.

She said Taylor would probably have to travel to Turkey to get the documents he needed.

“We have consistently told Mark Taylor that we cannot help him obtain a travel document, he would need to make his own way to a country where New Zealand has consular representation, something that in his current situation will be difficult to do.”

Taylor only had a New Zealand citizenship and the government had an obligation not to make people stateless, she said.

More from RNZ:  Call for NZ to take ‘Kiwi jihadi’ Mark Taylor likely

New Zealand can shortly expect demands from Kurdish officials to take the imprisoned Kiwi IS fighter, Mark Taylor, off their hands.

Mr Taylor was arrested in December, and told the ABC’s Middle East correspondent Adam Harvey he had turned himself over to Kurdish forces when he realised life under Islamic State wasn’t what he had anticipated it would be.

He said his life had become unbearable, with no food or money, and that basic services had collapsed.

Life has been unbearable for many people as a result of what ISIS has done, and that he has been a part of – inluding encouraging attacks on New Zealand.

Mr Harvey told Morning Report that Kurdish authorities wanted nothing to do with the western fighters now scarpering from the terrorist group – and that includes Mr Taylor.

“They’ve expressed to us their desire, that that’s what needs to happen with these foreign fighters and the IS families, the people in the camps,” he said.

Mr Harvey said Mr Taylor also told him he had spoken with New Zealand representatives since his arrest in December.

“He said shortly after his arrest he was spoken to by New Zealand intelligence officials on the ground here.”

“I have no idea when a formal request will be made. We’ll be speaking with the Foreign Minister of Kurdistan in a couple of days so we might get some more information then.

“But I think it’s safe to say that they want Mark Taylor out of here as soon as possible. He’s just a burden to them.”

He’s likely to be a burden to New Zealand if he ends up here, but we may have no choice.