Mohammad Yosof Keshtyar: Australian linked to radical Islamic group ‘killed in Syria’, sources say
An Australian man linked to a radical Islamist group in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs is believed to have been killed in the Middle East after travelling there with his wife.
- Mohammad Yosof Keshtyar is believed to have travelled to the Middle East either last year or in 2014
- Sources said Mr Keshtyar is believed to have been killed fighting in Syria
- He has been linked to the radical Islamist group Al Furqan
Mohammad Yosof Keshtyar, 30, was once filmed protesting with Harun Mehicevic, the leader of the now defunct Al-Furqan Islamic studies centre, in South Springvale, which has been linked to a number of men charged with terror offences.
The ABC understands that Mr Keshtyar travelled to the Middle East either last year or in 2014 after marrying a Melbourne woman and having a son.
It is believed that Mr Keshtyar’s wife also travelled to the region with him, but it is unclear whether she has subsequently returned to Australia and whether the couple’s young son also went with them.
Community sources said Mr Keshtyar is believed to have been killed fighting in Syria.
However, others said they had been told he died last year in a car accident in Saudi Arabia or Malaysia. The ABC understands that no Australians by that name were killed in either of those two countries last year.
Sources also pointed out that the news of Mr Keshtyar’s death had largely been kept quiet by the community, and questioned whether that would have been case if he had actually died in an accident.
They said it was possible the story of his death in a car crash was designed to conceal the real manner of his death.
A number of Mr Keshtyar’s relatives declined to comment when contacted by the ABC.
Family members of Mr Keshtyar’s wife — who the ABC has chosen not to name — also refused to comment on the woman’s whereabouts when visited at their south-east Melbourne home.
Mr Keshtyar’s outlook on life changed in recent years: sources
Sources said Mr Keshtyar, who arrived in Australia with his family from Afghanistan in the late 1980s or early 1990s, was liberal in his outlook during his youth, but became more conservative within the last four or five years.
Mr Keshtyar began a building construction course, but subsequently started his own carpet cleaning business which he ran out of the back of a van.
Mr Keshtyar features in a video shot in 2012, in which Harun Mehicevic — also known as Abu Talha — and a number of his adherents picketed an atheist convention at Melbourne’s exhibition centre.
In the video, Mr Keshtyar wields a sign reading: “Atheism a humiliation of reason. Islam is the only solution.”
Mr Mehicevic and his followers then call for prominent opponents of radical Islam, such as the late British writer Christopher Hitchens, to “burn in hell”, while security guards stand between them and the conference attendees.
Several young Australians linked to radical Islamic group
The Al-Furqan centre first came to public prominence in September 2012 when it, and a number of houses, were raided by counter-terror police.
One man arrested during those raids, Adnan Karabegovic, was charged with possessing a copy of the Al Qaeda magazine Inspire, and is still before the courts.
Since then, the centre has been linked to a number of young Australian men who either travelled to the Middle East to fight with Islamist groups, or have been arrested for the alleged planning of terror activities here in Australia.
These include Neil Prakash, a convert of Fijian-Cambodian origin, who became a senior figure in Islamic State after travelling to Syria and was reportedly killed recently.
Numan Haider, shot dead after stabbing two police officers outside Endeavour Hills police station in 2014, also reportedly attended Al-Furqan at some point, as did Haider’s friend Sevdet Besim, who will stand trial over an alleged plot to launch a terror attack in Melbourne on Anzac Day last year.
Harun Causevic, who was initially charged over the alleged Anzac Day plot before the charges was dropped, is still subject to a control order which prohibits him from attending Al-Furqan or communicating with Mr Mehicevic.
When Causevic was arrested, he had the international phone number of 19-year-old Irfaan Hussein, who was reportedly killed fighting for Islamic State in Syria last year. Hussein was also friends with Haider.
Also apparently associated with Al-Furqan was Mohomed Unais Mohomed Ameen, who the ABC revealed recently had appeared in a video promoting the Islamic State’s purported health service in the Syrian city and Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa.
Al-Furqan announced last year that it was closing its doors because of the adverse scrutiny it had attracted in the wake of the arrests over the alleged Anzac Day plot.