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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sydney man and roadside preacher Ahmad Moussalli killed in Syria

Ahmad Moussalli, centre, in Parramatta / Picture: Facebook 
 
A SYDNEY man killed fighting as a rebel in Syria was preaching Islam to passers-by on the streets of Parramatta before he flew out to the ­Middle East. Ahmad Moussalli, whose Facebook page and friends said he died in the conflict ­earlier this month, had been involved in the Sydney “street dawah” movement, where young Muslims preach their religion and try to get people to convert to Islam.

The Facebook profile boasts he converted more than 30 people prior to his departure to Egypt in late 2012 to “study Arabic”.
Last July, Mr Moussalli posted a video on YouTube urging others to head to the Middle East, saying his time there had been a “very, very good experience”.

Ahmad Moussalli in Parramatta / Picture: Facebook
Ahmad Moussalli in Parramatta / Picture: Facebook Source: Supplied
 
He also used Facebook ­repeatedly to urge supporters to donate money towards his trip, but it is unknown ­whether those funds helped him travel to Syria to become one of anywhere between 25 and 200 Australians there ­engaged in conflict. Some of Mr Moussalli’s posts featured religious quotes, including one alongside a photo of a grave which said in part: “The softness ... of the heart and its purity only comes about by remembering death, the grave, reward and punishment, and the horrors of the hereafter.”

Uthman Badar, Sydney-based spokesman for hardline Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir, said Mr Moussalli was “a dedicated Muslim who took his Islam very seriously”. “It is these attributes of diligence and wanting to excel that pushed him to travel to Egypt to seek knowledge and then, in an act of selfless sacrifice, to Syria to assist its beleaguered people,” he said.

“The community is sad at his departing but also proud of the courageous manner in which he has departed. We pray that he is accepted as a martyr with God.”
Mr Badar said Mr Moussalli was not a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir — labelled extremist by some critics — but his organisation ­supported any Muslim “going to assist the oppressed ­anywhere in the world”.

A Syrian man carries his offspring following an airstrike. Photo: AFP
A Syrian man carries his offspring following an airstrike. Photo: AFP Source: AFP
 
The devastated district of Homs. Photo: AFP
The devastated district of Homs. Photo: AFP Source: AFP
 
A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokeswoman said the department was aware of unconfirmed reports of Australian deaths in Syria. But there was no Australian embassy in Syria and the government’s capacity to deliver assistance there was “extremely limited”.
Mr Moussalli’s death ­follows that of western ­Sydney 22-year-old Caner Temel in Syria last month.
Temel was allegedly been recruited by al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra group prior to his death.
Sydney couple Yusuf and Amira Ali, allegedly involved in the same group, were killed last month near Aleppo.
 

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