Sharky Jama was once a rising star in the modeling world, but now the 25-year-old Australian is dead after traveling to Syria and being gunned down while fighting alongside the militant group ISIS.
Jama, who was a model and former DJ, disappeared in August of last year along with another Somali-Australian. Authorities say the pair traveled to Syria, where they took up with ISIS.
Family members said they didn’t know why Sharky Jama had left Australia, even though his social media postings showed messages in support of ISIS.
“He never explained what’s happening over there or what he’s doing,” Hussein Harakow, president of the Somali Australian Council of Victoria, told CNN. “The family lived a simple life. They never discussed these sorts of things.”
Harakow added that Jama’s parents only knew that he was in Fallujah, Iraq, where they believed he was living. But they learned this week via text message that their son was gunned down in Syria while fighting with ISIS.
Jama’s father, Dada Jama, then tried to call Sharky’s cell phone and was sent straight to voicemail.
“He got a text message and he received a phone call from Syria, someone has told him his son has passed away. Then he said I tried his number, because he has contact with his son. Automatically, it goes to voicemail, that’s what he said, and then he knew that his son is gone,” SBS Somali radio broadcaster Ibrahim Mohamed said.
Those in the modeling world remembered Sharky Jama as a bright and rising star. Stephen Bucknall, director of Melbourne’s FRM Model Management, said Jama was polite and unassuming, making the news even more surprising.
“We were quite shocked to find out he had joined ISIS, and we immediately cut ties with him,” said Bucknall, who added that the modeling agency cut ties with Jama after learning about his joining ISIS. “He was a very likeable guy, very courteous, always came around with a smile. He had a great modeling career ahead of him. He always showed up at the agency ready to work on the runway, print, and TV.”
Sharky Jama is not the only Australian to be killed fighting alongside ISIS. Jake Bilardi, a teen, also from Melbourne, was believed to have been killed in a suicide bombing in Iraq last month. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that 90 Australians had traveled to the Middle East to fight with the militant group, and about 20 had been killed in fighting.
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