Looking more like a rock star than an accused terrorist, Ahmed Jamal arrived home in Australia yesterday morning, his Iraqi ordeal finally over.
An Australian Federal Police spokeswoman said there was no warrant for his arrest in Australia.
“(But) any Australian who has been detained for alleged terrorist offences is a person of interest,” she said.
Mr Jamal had been overseas since February 2004, but his journey, to find a wife in his parents’ home of Jordan, turned into a nightmare that August when he was arrested in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq.
The 24-year-old had been in Iraq helping to build a mosque in Mosul when he was arrested and accused of being a jihadi insurgent by his Kurdish captors.
He was sent to prison in the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah where he remained jailed without charge or consular assistance until March last year, when Australia’s consul-general in Iraq, Alan Elliot, visited him and promised to lobby for his release.
It took a further 12 months but on Tuesday he was bundled on to a charter flight from Sulaimaniyah to Dubai, then flew from there to Australia, all the way escorted by two airline security guards.
His brother Ali, who was in Sydney to meet him, said he was concerned he would not recognise his sibling.
Mr Jamal, dressed in a stylish silver suit, tan shoes and orange shirt, did not say anything as he walked to his car. He stopped briefly to embrace his brother and appeared to have tears in his eyes as he looked at his home city.
Ali Jamal said: “He just wants to go home and have a shower, have a sleep and have a good feed from his mum. He’s looking forward to his mum’s cooking.”
Two of Mr Jamal’s brothers have drawn the attention of security agencies before. Saleh, who had been in prison in Lebanon on terrorism charges, was extradited to Australia last year and found guilty in February of shooting a man in 1998 in a Sydney park. Omar is facing terror-related charges in NSW of manufacturing explosives.