Bill Ralston: What the Govt should do about Kiwi jihadist Mark Taylor

by Bill Ralston / 13 March, 2019
RelatedArticlesModule - Mark Taylor kiwi jihadist

Mark Taylor. Photo/Supplied

The Kiwi jihadist who joined Isis probably no longer thinks it was such a good idea.

As I write, New Zealander Mark Taylor is in a Kurdish prison reportedly somewhere in war-torn Syria. By the time you read this, anything may have happened to him. I cannot imagine Kurdish jails are entirely pleasant.

It is a pity he never contemplated this outcome when he raced off to join Isis forces five years ago, but I am not sure foresight or even deep thought are among Taylor’s intellectual endowments. Surely, I thought, he would have recoiled in horror and fled after he noticed Isis was cutting off people’s heads and keeping women as slaves.

Instead, he stayed, and posed in a photo with a rifle and an implement that looks well suited to beheadings.

Oh, and one of his biggest regrets, he told an Australian film crew, was that he did not have enough cash to buy a slave for himself.

Anyone who has read of the Yazidi women captured, raped, beaten and enslaved by Isis might be aghast at his cruelty in even contemplating that thought.

Taylor left his Isis comrades because, he said, life had become unendurable. That is because the Islamic State has, thankfully, been smashed by its opponents, and I guess Taylor, lacking food, surrendered to the Kurds. He now expects to return home to New Zealand.

This comes after he burnt his passport a few years back and urged Kiwi jihadists to commit terrorist acts here, suggesting they stab soldiers and police. He wants to come home even though he accepts he may face a couple of years in jail. Chances are that’s a more attractive option than his present lodgings.

The Government has adopted a “nothing to see here” approach, basically saying, “Gosh, Syria is a war zone, we have no representation there, it’s very dangerous, so if Mr Taylor wants to go to Turkey instead and contact one of our diplomats there, we’ll see what can be done.”

I am not so sure that Taylor can wave goodbye to his Kurdish captors and trudge off across the desert to distant Istanbul or Ankara. Listening to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in an interview about him, I gained the impression that this country has washed its hands of the jihadist, who, frankly, looks more like a bewildered hobbit than a fiery fundamentalist warrior.

An interview I have heard with Taylor makes it clear he is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. I expect his school reports were cluttered with such words as “easily led”, borne out, you might say, by his willingness to join Isis.

At one point when he was with the terror organisation, he forgot to turn off the geo-locator on his mobile phone as he used Twitter to exhort fellow jihadists to action, thus identifying his unit’s position.

The Government has said it is not willing to endanger its people trying to get him out of Syria. Oddly, however, he is reported as saying he has met New Zealand intelligence staff over there.

Whoever they were, my advice to the Government is to send them back, take Taylor by the ear and bring him home to a nice warm non-Kurdish prison cell.

This article was first published in the March 16, 2019 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

Latest

How to enhance your dining experience – with water
103174 2019-03-22 00:00:00Z Dining

How to enhance your dining experience – with water…

by Metro

A stunning dining experience isn’t just about food and wine. Water plays a big part too.

Read more
Facebook won't give up its insidious practices without a fight
103856 2019-03-22 00:00:00Z Tech

Facebook won't give up its insidious practices wit…

by Peter Griffin

Facebook came under fire for its response to the live-streaming of the Christchurch terror attack, but it's digital nudging that's also concerning.

Read more
In photos: The world unites in solidarity with Christchurch
103800 2019-03-21 15:36:46Z World

In photos: The world unites in solidarity with Chr…

by Lauren Buckeridge

Countries around the world have put on a show of solidarity for the victims of the Christchurch terror attack.

Read more
The tangled path to terrorism
103777 2019-03-21 09:59:55Z Psychology

The tangled path to terrorism

by Marc Wilson

The path that leads people to commit atrocities such as that in Christchurch is twisting and unpredictable, but the journey often begins in childhood.

Read more
If 'This is not New Zealand', let us show it
103768 2019-03-21 09:31:27Z Social issues

If 'This is not New Zealand', let us show it

by The Listener

The little signs among the banks of flowers said, “This is not New Zealand.” They meant, “We thought we were better than this.” We were wrong.

Read more
Extremism is not a mental illness
103785 2019-03-21 00:00:00Z Crime

Extremism is not a mental illness

by The Mental Health Foundation of NZ

Shooting people is not a symptom of a mental illness. White supremacy is not a mental illness.

Read more
PM announces ban on all military-style semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles
103805 2019-03-21 00:00:00Z Crime

PM announces ban on all military-style semi-automa…

by RNZ

Ms Ardern pledged the day after the terrorist massacre that "gun laws will change" and would be announced within 10 days of the attack.

Read more
No mention of right-wing extremist threats in 10 years of GCSB & SIS public docs
103770 2019-03-21 00:00:00Z Politics

No mention of right-wing extremist threats in 10 y…

by Jane Patterson

There is not one specific mention of the threat posed by white supremacists or right-wing nationalism in 10 years of security agency documents.

Read more