'System failed him': New Zealand Islamic group president wishes 'Kiwi Jihadi' Mark Taylor gets second chance

Credit: Video - The AM Show; Image - File

A prominent figure in the Muslim community who knows 'Kiwi Jihadi' Mark Taylor says he deserves a second chance and needs to be given the help he requires.

On Monday, Australian media reported Taylor, who lived with Islamic State (IS) extremists in Syria for years, had been jailed in a Kurdish prison after surrendering to local forces.

The United States marked Taylor a global terrorist in 2015 after he appeared in an IS propaganda video and encouraged attacks in Australia and New Zealand.

He is also well-known internationally for spending 50 days in an IS prison after forgetting to turn off a geo-tagging function on a tweet, giving away his location.

Dr Mustafa Farouk, President of the Federation of Islamic Associations New Zealand and a Queen's Service Medal recipient for his services to the Muslin community, knows Taylor and says he has low IQ and needs help.

"As an individual who knew Mark Taylor when he was living in Hamilton, I don't think this guy is a threat because when he was living here, we knew he was someone who had very low IQ, and we tried to get some help for him," he told Newshub on Tuesday.

"He was trying to manage it himself but he definitely needed a lot of help at that time."

Dr Farouk said Taylor came to the Hamilton Mosque roughly seven years ago, and while elders tried to help him find somewhere to live and take him to social services, he wasn't interested.

"He didn't want accommodation, he wanted to be independent, so he parked his car close to the mosque and he was sleeping there," he said.

The elder also said he was surprised Taylor was allowed to travel, but he may have been spurred on by his obsession to get married.

"At that time, he was someone who definitely should have been helped. Maybe he didn't get the help. The system failed him to a certain degree and he ended up [in Syria] and luckily enough didn't get killed."

Taylor reportedly surrendered himself as he was running low on basic resources and wanted assistance.

If he comes home, Dr Farouk said he hopes Taylor is given a chance to have a life.

"It is probably the time now, that the system gives him the opportunity to come back over and get the help that he needed.

"I think he deserves to have a life and help."

But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Justice Minister Andrew Little have said Taylor should prepare to be stopped at the border if he does manage to get back to New Zealand and could be investigated on terrorism grounds.

"It is unlawful to join and fight for a terrorist organisation, such as Mark Taylor has done," said Ms Ardern.

"His actions in joining ISIS and travelling to Syria to fight for them has created the potential for legal ramifications in New Zealand."

As New Zealand doesn't have representatives in Syria and Taylor is believed to have destroyed his previous passport, for the man to access an emergency temporary passport he would need to travel to the nearest consular office in Turkey.

Even if Taylor does manage to get to Turkey after being released from prison, Mr Little said he would still need to pay for an airfare and find an airline that will bring him home.

Newshub.

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