Australian counter-terrorism police have searched two homes linked to Mohomed Unais Mohomed Ameen, a Sri Lankan-born man who appeared in a propaganda video for the so-called Islamic State’s health service in Syria.
The ABC learned warrants were executed on two addresses on Thursday morning, in the outer northern Melbourne suburbs of Meadow Heights and Craigieburn, by police searching for information about 41-year-old Ameen.
The homes are believed to be those of Ameen’s two ex-wives.
It is believed that Ameen was once associated with the Al Furqan bookshop in Springvale, which has been linked to a number of Australians who have travelled to the Middle East to fight with Islamic State, and to others who have allegedly planned terror attacks in Victoria.
Ameen appeared in a slick propaganda video purportedly set in an Islamic State-run hospital in the Syrian city and Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa.
When the video emerged last year, attention focused on Australian doctor Tareq Kamleh, who urged Australian sympathisers of Islamic State with medical training to come to Syria and work for the terrorist group.
However, Ameen also played a significant role in the video, in which he claims to be working in the physiotherapy department of an Islamic State hospital.
He says he is treating up to 500 patients a week, and like Kamleh, he calls for Australian and other foreign sympathisers of Islamic State to come to Syria and offer their services.
“We have staff from many other countries, physiotherapy doctors from Russia, physiotherapy doctors from Sham, physiotherapy doctors from Australia, from Sri Lanka, Tunisia, and that a few countries to be named,” he says.
“We have female physiotherapy doctors separately for physiotherapy for females, and for the children.
“I would like to take this opportunity, call my brothers and sisters who have the medical background, medical knowledge, who [are] qualified or semi-qualified.
“We need the brothers and sisters to come and help us from all around the world.”
Ameen linked to men allegedly involved in Anzac Day terror plot
However, despite creating the impression that he is working as a physiotherapist, the ABC understands Ameen has no medical training, and was studying for a diploma of sports coaching in Melbourne before travelling to Syria in May 2014.
Details about Ameen’s life in Australia are sketchy, but he is believed to have arrived in Australia in 2001 on a student visa, and became an Australian citizen after marrying an Australian woman.
The ABC has been told he was on some kind of benefits after allegedly suffering a back injury.
It is also understood Ameen was associated with Al Furqan, which has been linked over the years with Australian Islamic State propagandist Neil Prakash, Numan Haider, the teenager shot dead after attacking two policemen at Endeavour Hills in 2014, and men alleged to be involved with a planned terror attack in Melbourne on Anzac Day last year.
Ameen’s name also showed up last year in a number of Turkish language articles on a list of foreign Islamic State sympathisers who had allegedly been detained by Turkish authorities, and then allowed to cross the border into Syria.
In those articles, Ameen’s Australian passport number and date of birth are listed, and his place of birth is given as the Sri Lankan town of Borella.
The articles say the foreign fighters were first detained by Turkish authorities between April and September 2014, which would fit with Ameen’s date of departure from Australia.
On that list are some foreign fighters who have been previously reported as fighting in Syria with Islamic State.
Confusingly, though, other names on the list are those of Westerners who were reportedly held hostage by Islamic State.
When asked for comment, the Australian Federal Police confirmed it had “conducted operational activity” in Meadow Heights and Craigieburn and said there was no immediate danger to the community.
It said it would not comment further because the investigation is ongoing. (ABC)