The photograph of a young boy holding the severed head of a Syrian soldier and printed in an Australian newspaper on Monday shows just how dangerous militant group ISIL (Islamic State) is, said Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot.
He described the photo of the boy, understood to be the son of convicted Australian terrorist, Khaled Sharrouf, as “hideous” and “barbaric.”
In a series of photos originally published on Twitter, Sharrouf posed alongside three young boys believed to be his sons in front of the militant group’s flag. Another photo showed a boy holding a firearm.
Chuck Hagel, US Secretary of Defence, said the photo of the young boy holding the head of a slain soldier proves the dangers the group poses to the Western world.
“ISIL is a threat to the civilised world, certainly to the United States, to our interests, it is to Europe, it is to Australia,” said Hagel. “And I think reflected in a local newspaper I saw this morning, with a picture on the front page, it’s pretty graphic evidence of the real threat that ISIL represents.”
Sydney jihadist Sharrouf, had been banned from leaving Australia because of the threat he posed.
But last year he used his brother’s passport and fled to Syria with his wife and sons.
Sharif is Australia’s most wanted terrorist and is now an ISIL fighter.
Five years ago, he was accused of stockpiling bomb-making materials and plotting terrorist attacks in Sydney and Melbourne.
The Australian government believes at least 150 of its citizens are involved in fighting or actively supporting the militant group in Syria and Iraq.
The Obama administration meanwhile announced on Monday it has begun directly providing weapons to Kurdish forces who have started to make gains against Islamic militants in northern Iraq.