Mystery of Taranaki jersey with Iraq's 'Rambo'

The man is seen surrounding Abu Azrael wearing a Taranaki rugby jersey
The man is seen surrounding Abu Azrael wearing a Taranaki rugby jersey

How did a Taranaki rugby jersey end up being worn the streets of Baghdad, in a photo with the man dubbed Iraq's Rambo?

The Tenderlink Taranaki jersey is proudly worn by an Iraqi man as he poses for a photo with famous warrior Abu Azrael, the man known as the Angel of Death who has been called Islamic State's (IS) "worst nightmare".

You can see it for yourself seven seconds  into a video posted by French television network France 24. It was made in May this year and has had over a million hits on YouTube.

Azrael is the symbol of Iraqi Shiite resistance against IS, a bearded bodybuilding hero and social media phenomenon usually seen wielding a gun, or a rocket launcher, an axe, a machete or a combination of these.

Azrael's motto is "illa tahin", meaning "nothing remains but flour".  That is, he will pulverize IS militants until nothing remains of them but powder.

And in some random and crazy coincidence, the Taranaki rugby jumper has ended up in a photo with him. Yes, the jersey is worn by a bystander fan of Azrael's, but it is still random.

It is hard to imagine how the jersey got from the province of Taranaki here in New Zealand all the way to Baghdad - but someone must know.

Adding to the mystery is that it's Taranaki's black alternate strip - the one worn when playing away games against teams who have similar colours - so it is much rarer than the traditional amber and black jersey.

The Taranaki Rugby Union says it is the 2013 alternate strip called Raging Bull, which was for sale to the public.

And for the record, Azrael is the real deal: just 10 days ago, a video emerged showing him burning a Sunni jihadist man alive and cutting into his charred body with a sword

So how did the Taranaki's Amber and Black end up with Iraq's Angel of Death?

If you can solve the mystery or have any information, email

3 News