Sheikh Mohammed Omran, photographed in 2004, is the leader of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah Association of Australia. Photo: Ken IrwinThe son of a leading Melbourne-based Islamic sheik has died in unexplained circumstances in Syria, while providing “humanitarian aid” in the war zone.
The death of Ayman Omran was confirmed on Wednesday in a statement by the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaah Association of Australia, of which his father Sheikh Mohammed Omran – also known as Abu Ayman – is the leader. The statement did not address an unconfirmed report that he died in a bombing.
“It is with deep sorrow and sincere regret we confirm the sad news of our beloved brother Ayman Omran has passed away,” the association’s vice-president Sheikh Kalid Issa said in the statement.
“Ayman travelled as a volunteer to provide humanitarian aid, an act consistent with his soft heartedness and caring demeanour.”
The association, which preaches a strict form of Sunni religion, asked the media and public to respect the privacy of Mr Omran’s family.
It is believed Sheikh Omran is overseas and was told of his son’s death on Tuesday night.
Sheikh Issa said the association, with centres in Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia and Queensland, had a policy that travelling to the Syrian war zone was “to be avoided”.
Australian Security Intelligence Organisation director-general Duncan Lewis told a Senate hearing last month that up to 49 Australians may have been killed in Syria and Iraq during the current conflict there.
Mr Lewis said 110 Australians were overseas fighting and almost 200 Australians were actively supporting the terrorist group Islamic State at home.
“The demographic is young. If I was talking to you a couple of years ago typically we would have been talking about people in their late 20s, early 30s,” he said.
“By the start or middle of last year we were … down to the teens.
“Untrained and naive young Australians are being drawn into the conflict and finding themselves in what I would describe as highly expendable, highly dangerous positions of low importance amid the [IS] effort,” he said.
A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman said the Australian government could not usually confirm reports of deaths in Syria and Iraq because of the danger in those countries.
It is also unable to provide consular assistance such as help to repatriate remains.
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