Gangster Jihad

Khaled Sharrouf's transition from petty Western criminal to terrorist for the Islamic State

Gangster Jihad He shocked the world by tweeting pictures of himself - and his child - holding the severed heads of executed Syrians in the service of IS. Yet Khaled Sharrouf was born and grew up in Australia. After a life of petty crime, a fervour bred in the suburbs of Sydney led this criminal thug into religious extremism and alarming brutality. His transition to terrorism reveals IS's disquieting attractiveness to a strange new breed - the gangster jihadi.

"He was groomed, he was trained, he was indoctrinated", describes police officer Peter Moroney. This complex tale of a young man's extraordinary path to a life of terrorism shows how a fervour bred in the suburbs of Sydney led this criminal thug to religious extremism and unfettered brutality, making him the "global face of Islamic State's foreign fighters". Shortly after escaping Australia by using his brother's passport, Sharrouf posted pictures on social media of himself and his child holding severed heads of people executed by the Islamic State. "Khaled Sharrouf is not bad, he's mad", says Sharrouf's former lawyer. This "very public enemy number one" had a history of violent crimes and terrorist offences, and evidence has been found of an alleged extortion threat against one of Australia's prominent construction companies. Sharrouf's transition from petty criminal to barbaric terrorist fighter is revealing of a worrying trend of recruitment by ISIS.


The Producers

Marian Wilkinson joined the Four Corners team in March 2010.
Wilkinson is a multi- award winning journalist with a career that has spanned radio, television and print. She has covered politics, national security, terrorism and refugees issues as well as serving as a foreign correspondent in Washington DC for The Sydney Morning Herald, Melbourne’s The Age and the ABC TV's Four Corners program. She has also worked as Deputy Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, as well as Executive Producer of Four Corners. Most recently, Marian has been environment editor for the Sydney Morning Herald and covered the Copenhagen climate change conference. In 2008, Marian reported on the rapid melt of Arctic sea ice for a joint ABC Four Corners-Sydney Morning Herald production which won a Walkley Award for journalism as well as the Australian Museum's Eureka prize for environmental journalism.

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