Before Australian physician Tareq Kamleh became the star of the latest Islamic State propaganda video, encouraging other professionals in the West to join the jihad in Iraq and Syria, he was a womanizing “creep” whom former colleagues claimed struggled with balancing his religion and rampant promiscuity.
The Guardian reports that the 29-year-old Adelaide doctor is believed to have entered Raqqa, Syria, by flying first to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on March 10. His Facebook profile, which is private save for two albums full of photos, appears to have been last updated three weeks ago. Over the weekend, Kamleh appeared in an Islamic State propaganda video highlighting Raqqa’s medical facilities, in which Kamleh can be seen handling babies and explaining in English why he left Australia.
“I was very happy that I made the decision, and I was a little bit saddened at how long I’d delayed it. I wish I had come a lot sooner,” Kamleh says in the video, where he introduces himself as Abu Yusuf. He explains that providing medical treatment is “my jihad for Islam.” War against the “infidels” is not mentioned in the video.
According to The Guardian, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has confirmed that Kamleh is the first Australian doctor known to be working with the Islamic State. “For an Australian doctor to go, to sign up with this group of bandits, people who are murdering, raping, killing people in the Middle East, in the name of ISIL is just something that our country can’t tolerate,” he said.
The Guardian notes that those interviewed who worked with Kamleh would not have branded him a likely candidate for jihad, with some even stating that they were not aware he was Muslim. One former colleague interviewed by The Australian described Kamleh as a “creep” and “sleazeball,” who used patients’ medical records to rope them into sex with him. In at least one instance, claimed the former coworker, Kamleh used a patient’s drug and prostitution history to make her have sex with him.
“I feel reluctant to speak ill of a former colleague, but as he is now portraying himself as a jihadist and calling others to join the so-called caliphate, I feel I should. … At the time, he was one of the most immoral people I knew, in terms of promiscuity at least,” said the coworker. He added that he would pretend to be a devout Muslim when his parents were in town.
Not all colleagues spoke ill of him, though most acknowledged his promiscuity was a major part of his identity. Australia’s Courier-Mail found multiple former colleagues willing to talk. Dr. Michael Williams described Kamleh as “a very good and caring doctor who related well to patients and other staff. … He was friendly and affable and practised a good standard of medicine.” Another anonymous former colleague claimed that Kamleh “won this stupid award at Royal Adelaide where they voted him the intern who had slept with the most girls,” also stating that “he was quite charismatic,” which made many overlook his deviant behavior. “He’d brag when it was the 100th person he’d slept with,” said the colleague.