The baby faced jihadi who appeared in a ISIS propaganda photo in December 2014 sitting between two bearded Islamic State militants has been named as Jake, 18, a gifted math student from the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. His family has requested that his last name not be released to the media.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. He Had Been Incorrectly Named Before
In December 2014, the photo of Jake sitting between two ISIS militants hit Twitter, where Abu Dawud, a Twitter user, identified him as a British man named “Jonathan Edwards.” According to Australia Newshub, the tweet read that Edwards had “applied for Ucas (Britain’s Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) [too] late and wasn’t accepted in any university, so he joined the Islamic state.” The story was picked up by many media sources, particularly those in England.
Abu Dawud later came out and said he made it all up and had “trolled” British media.
The White Jihadi’s real identity came out this week as more news of Australians attempting to travel to Islamic State territory came out. Fairfax Media broke the story.
2. He Traveled to ISIS-Held Territory in Spring 2014
Jake did not come from an Islamic family and converted to the religion after suffering from depression. He converted around the age of 16 and began to attend mosques in the Melbourne area, particularly the Meadow Heights mosque.
He took the Muslim name Abdur Raheem or Abu Abdullah.
Fairfax Media reports that his family was not pleased with his newfound religion.
During his final year of high school in 2014, Jake had told his family that he had been corresponding with a journalist in Istanbul, Turkey who had offered him a job if he were to travel to the region. The journalist now appears to be an Islamic State recruiter.
In spring 2014, after dropping out of high school and on the pretense of traveling to take up the job with the “journalist”, Jake bought a one-way ticket to Istanbul.
Two months after his disappearance, Jake contacted his family to let them know he was in Iraq training for a “martyrdom mission” with a suicide vest. Later that month, however, he called again to say he was “too scared to do it and he prefers being a soldier”. He proposed to travel to Syria.
NewsHub writes that Jake followed through with the plan and now resides in Syria.
3. His Family is Worried Sick
Jake’s family is reportedly worried sick about him but an unnamed friend who spoke to Fairfax Media in the original report says Jake is doing what he wants to do.
A school friend, who wished to remain anonymous, told Fairfax Media Jake had ‘made his own choices and he believes it’s the right choice’.
‘He was not pushed into IS and was not pushed into Islam. People can make their own decisions and this was one of his – he felt that it was right for him. He had done sufficient research to believe it was the right step in life,’ the friend said.
‘He was obviously a believer in Islam and wanted to fulfil what he believed was his duties to the religion.’
4. He Was a ‘Math Whiz’
Jake is incredibly smart, particularly in mathematics.
Meanwhile, Fairfax’s investigation can reveal Jake was a high-flying student, a maths whiz, who attended Craigieburn Secondary College’s CEAP Excel accelerated learning program. However, he dropped out of high school mid-last year after converting to Islam…
The Daily Mail contradicts this, however, and reports that “one of his friends claimed Jake had decided to drop out after thinking he would fail his final year in high school.”
5. 2 Other Australian Youths Were Recently Stopped For Trying to Travel to ISIS-Held Territory
The identification of the White Jihadi comes on the heels of two more Australian youths being apprehended and charged with allegedly planning to travel to fight for the Islamic State.
The revelations come as Australian customs officials confirmed that two teenage brothers, believed to have been attempting to travel to conflict zones in the Middle East, were stopped at Sydney Airport.
The youths, aged 16 and 17, were detained by Customs on Friday, after they aroused the suspicions of two Customs and Border Protection officers, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said.