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Sharky Jama an unlikely IS recruit

A Melbourne man has reportedly been killed after heading to Syria to join Islamic State.

Friday, April 17, 2015

The latest Australian to die while fighting for the Islamic State seemed an unlikely recruit for militant extremism.

Sharky Jama, a former male model, had a warm personality and was respected as a youth role model in Melbourne's Somali community.

His heartbroken family learned on Monday that Jama, 25, had been shot dead while fighting for IS in Syria.

It came after they were told in another long-distance phone call, in August 2014, that Jama was planing to join IS.

"They came to know only when he reached the Turkey border and, at the time, he called his mum and said `I'm in Turkey now and I'm going to Syria`," Somali community leader Hussein Haraco told AAP on Thursday.

"Before that nobody knew ... no one thought he would go overseas and join ISIS."

Jama had been on the books of Melbourne modelling agency FRM Management for two and a half years, where company director Stephen Bucknall described him as a "very likeable chap".

"I got the news in New York just before Christmas that he had joined ISIS and we took him offline immediately," Mr Bucknall told AAP.

He was surprised to hear Jama had joined IS, given his bubbly persona.

Dr Berhan Ahmed, chair of the African Think Tank and 2009 Victorian Australian of the Year, said Jama was an energetic figure who was viewed as a role model for young Somali Australians.

"To see him going over there begs a lot of questions to be asked, as a community and a nation," he said.

Young Muslims could feel compelled to fight with IS if they did not feel they belonged in Australia, he said.

DFAT has not confirmed Jama's death.

But Jama's friends have been mourning his death on Facebook.

Some of the posts also link Jama to the Iraqi city of Fallujah, and the news comes just a month after the death of Melbourne teen Jake Bilardi, a fellow IS recruit killed in a suicide bombing in Ramadi.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has again urged Australians not to join foreign causes where they become "a danger to others ... a danger to yourself. Don't do it".

Also on Thursday, the Lowy Institute released a report which said the Abbott government's "troubled relations" with the Muslim community were undermining efforts at countering violent extremism


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