101 East

Australia’s Jihadis

101 East explores why so many young Australians are risking their lives on the brutal front lines of Syria and Iraq.

Bassima El Baf is inconsolable. Her four sons have left the safety of their Australian home for the violent chaos of a war that seems a world away from Sydney.

I feel sick, I can't speak any more, I can't eat… Every day I go and hug their bed and their clothes … I cry, cry, cry.

by Bassima El Baf, mother of four sons who went to fight in Syria

The brothers, who told their parents they were going to Thailand, sent a text message saying “see you in paradise”.

The El Baf boys are believed to be among the latest young Australians to travel to Syria to fight, and their parents can not understand why.

Australia contributes one of the largest number of foreign fighters per capita from any country outside of the Middle East to the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. 

They are taking up arms for known terrorist groups like ISIL. Many of them are young, second-generation immigrants who grew up in Australia, far from the war-torn countries that their parents fled.

The Australian government’s response has been to cancel passports and raid homes, but this is doing little to stop them. Communities are under pressure as they struggle to understand what’s propelling their young to war.

101 East goes inside the world of Australia’s jihadis to find out what is driving them to the frontline. Join the conversation @AJ101East