'Blog' of suspected Australian teen terrorist Jake Bilardi reveals path to ISIS

ISIS: Australian teen carries out suicide bombing
ISIS: Australian teen carries out suicide bombing

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Story highlights

  • An Australian teen suspected of an ISIS suicide bombing left behind a purported blog
  • It traces his path to radicalization, seeking to destroy the democratic West before finding Islam
  • Police say he planned attacks in his hometown of Melbourne before abandoning the plot

(CNN)A teenage Australian jihadist suspected of having carried out an ISIS suicide attack developed a hatred for the West over the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, before settling on radical Islam as a vehicle for "violent global revolution," according to his purported blog.

Jake Bilardi, an 18-year-old student from Melbourne, appears to have documented his path to radicalization and his experiences in ISIS-held territory in a blog, titled "From the eyes of a Mujahir: An Australian Mujahir in the land of the Khilafah." The blog has been deleted, but a cached version remains available online.
    An image allegedly shows 18-year-old Jake Bilardi at the wheel of a car used in a suicide attack in Ramadi, Iraq.
    CNN could not independently verify the blog's authenticity, but the biographical details detailed on the blog match Bilardi's.
    One of the final posts on the blog, which is credited to "Abu Abdullah al-Australi," purports to have been posted on January 13, as the author was "preparing to sacrifice my life for Islam in Ramadi."
    The Australian government said Wednesday it was working to confirm reports that Bilardi had carried out a suicide attack on behalf of ISIS, after the terror group claimed an "Abu Abdullah al-Australi" had been killed in a car bombing during an offensive in the city of Ramadi.
    The claims were made along with a picture that appeared to be of Bilardi, referred to as "Abu Abdullah al-Australi," apparently prior to carrying out the mission.

    Suburban upbringing

    The blogger describes having a "very comfortable" upbringing as the youngest of six in the Melbourne suburbs, where he was raised an atheist, excelled in his studies and "dreamed of becoming a political journalist."
    He describes how his older siblings educated him on various subjects, and how his brother's instruction on international politics held a special resonance for him, particularly after the September 11 attacks.
    "Being just five years old at the time of the attacks ... my knowledge of the operation was basically non-existent. Despite this, I was immediately drawn to the topics of al Qaeda and 'Islamic terrorism'," he wrote.
    "It was from here that my research into al Qaeda ... and groups with similar ideologies worldwide began. I spent every day researching online and reading the books I had begun collecting."

    Democratic 'deception'

    The blogger writes that it was his reading on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and abuses committed by occupying forces, "that gave birth to my disdain for the United States and its allies, including Australia. It was also the start of my respect for the mujahideen that would only grow to develop into a love of Islam and ultimately bring me here to the Islamic State."
    Eventually, he wrote, he came to view democracy as "nothing but a system of lies and deception," one which "focuses heavily on providing the people with so-called freedom" but "throws celebrities and false reality into the spotlight to distract the people from what is really going on in the world."
    The wars "signaled the beginning of my complete hatred and opposition to the entire system Australia and the majority of the world was based upon," he wrote.
    "It was also the moment I realised that violent global revolution was necessary to eliminate this system of governance and that... I would likely be killed in this struggle."

    Socialism? Communism? Or Islam?

    While the blogger said he had come to the conclusion that democracy was "something that can only and must be destroyed by violent revolution," he wrote, he "was never quite sure" what should replace it.
    "Socialism? Communism?? Nazism???" he wrote. Eventually, as his interest in jihadist groups deepened at about the time of the Arab Spring, he settled on Islam.
    "It was Islam that for me stood out as easy to understand and was shockingly consistent with established historical and scientific facts," he wrote.
    Following a stretch in which he turned his back on his growing extremist beliefs, which he described as "one of the most shameful periods of my life," the blogger wrote that he began to try to find a contact to help him join Jabhat al-Nusra or Ahrar al-Sham, two Islamist groups fighting in Syria.
    His attempts were unsuccessful.
    While he had initially rejected ISIS after "falling for the many lies being spread against them," he wrote that he began speaking to their members online, and, after witnessing their military successes, developed a desire to join the group.
    Eventually, he managed to find a contact who promised to get him into ISIS territory.

    'Plan B'

    Worried that his plot to leave Australia might be foiled by authorities, the blogger wrote that he developed his "Plan B," collecting materials for what he envisaged as a "string of bombings across Melbourne, targeting foreign consulates and political/military targets as well as grenade and knife attacks on shopping centers and cafes and culminating with myself detonating a belt of explosives amongst the kuffar."
    Victoria police confirmed Wednesday that chemicals that could be used to make an explosive device had been found in a search of his family's home in the Melbourne suburb of Craigieburn.
    The blogger wrote that he abandoned his plans for an attack in Melbourne after realizing that buying bomb-making chemicals could draw the attention of authorities and ruin his bid to join ISIS.
    He did not reveal how he had been able to enter ISIS territory, but said that on entering the ISIS-held Syrian city of Jarablus, he "felt a joy I had never experienced before."
    In another blog post, entitled "Being white in the Islamic State: The abolition of racism" he wrote approvingly that the "Islamic State has been successful in eliminating racism and in building the world's only true multi-ethnic state."
    He said he signed up for a "martyrdom operation," or suicide attack, in Baiji, Iraq, which failed, before registering to undertake another in Ramadi, where he was "waiting for my turn to stand before Allah."

    Atypical terrorist

    Clarke Jones, an expert on radicalization at the Australian National University, said that Bilardi "blew away the profile of what most people think of when they think of people who are going to support the Islamic State."
    White and middle class, reportedly bullied at school and vulnerable following the loss of his mother to cancer, he more easily fit the profile of a school shooter than an Islamic terrorist, he said.
    "What it does show us is that there are a whole range of profiles," he said.
    Bilardi's aunt has linked the teen's troubles to the loss of his mother, while a former classmate at Melbourne's Craigieburn Secondary College described him as shy.

    'Self-radicalized'

    Jones said Bilardi's case was also notable in that he did not appear to have been "groomed" by terror recruiters -- indeed, he wrote of initially struggling to make contacts among Islamic extremists -- and had radicalized himself through his own readings.
    "The PM here said Jake was brainwashed -- I don't think he was brainwashed. He was very calculated in what he did and documented it quite clearly," said Jones.
    In one of the blog posts, the blogger says that the warm welcome he and other foreign fighters had received in the Islamic State disproved "the Australian government's laughable claim that we are used as 'cannon fodder'."
    But Jones said his Bilardi's ultimate fate in a suicide mission was typical for foreign fighters in his position.
    He believed that in knowingly signing up for this fate, on two separate occasions, Bilardi had been seeking the kind of recognition and achievement that, as a vulnerable teen, he had been denied at home.
    "He wanted that 'religious prize'," he said.