It’s highly likely Australia’s most notorious terrorist has been killed in Syria along with his two sons, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton says.
“I can only confirm that there is a high likelihood, high level of certainty in terms of the death of Khaled Sharrouf,” Mr Dutton told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.
There are reports that Sharrouf died in an US air strike while driving in Raqqa with sons Abdullah, 12, and Zarqawi, 11, on August 11.
Mr Dutton described the foreign fighter as a “despicable human being”.
“If he has been killed in Syria then frankly that is something I would welcome,” he said.
The minister said nobody would want to see the death of any Australian children, but Sharrouf took his sons into a warzone.
“They’ve poisoned their minds,” he said.
“If they’ve been killed along with their father that is regrettable in terms of the children but that is a decision that was made by the parents.”
Terrorism expert Greg Barton believes the likely death of Sharrouf further confirms Islamic State is “finished”.
“It is further news that the allure and myth of the so-called romantic jihadi fighting for a utopian state has been punctured,” he told the Nine Network.
The Deakin University professor said everyone would feel for the Sharrouf children.
“Is the tragic part of the news. Sharrouf himself was a thuggish nobody, his life meant nothing, his death meant nothing either,” Prof Barton said.
“He really wasn’t a mastermind or even a recruiter. He was just a sick lost boy.”
Prof Barton says it was likely Australian intelligence was involved in the strike.
“They would have been tracking communications,” he said.