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Beach Grit

Careers: Surfer turns soldier of Allah!

Derek Rielly

by Derek Rielly

What bad career choices have you made?

Recently, I had a surprise argument with a good friend over the sensitivity, or not, of celebrating Christmas. The friend, who was planning the December window display of his store, remarked, in such an off-hand manner that it chilled me to the bone, that he was having difficulty finding a “Happy Holidays” sign in Sydney.

Christmas, he said, causes terrible offence to our non-Christian brothers and sisters and therefore all references to the birth of Jesus must be evaporated.

I pitched camp on the side that once you remove all vestiges of the host culture a vacuum is created, which is henceforth filled, by another that doesn’t cringe at its own traditions.

We back and forthed, both making up facts and including anecdotes that didn’t happen, until I stormed off (briefly).

I ain’t one for believing in omnipotent gods, but Christmas, in my experience, is a rewarding time of the year, even if television programming suffers. To cast it aside is the first step in the crumbling of what is, mostly, a kind and just society, and least in comparison to many others around the world.

But young men know only lions get respect. If I was twenty, I might’ve heard the call to become a hero of the caliphate too.

Therefore, it doesn’t surprise me when I hear of young men taking up, with romantic zeal, the cudgel for ISIS, that dynamic offshoot of Al-Qaeda.

Let’s catalogue the ¬†benefits of an ISIS membership: you get to shoot machine guns with real bullets at real people. You’re encouraged to take multiple wives. You may take a battery of sex slaves, by force if necessary, if you’re the sort whose cock could drill holes in concrete. Every thought, meanwhile, is taken care of via an ultra-orthodox interpretation of the Koran.

Two years ago, the Australian doctor Tareq Kamleh, who trades under the Jihad name Abu Youssef al-Australi, whistled into Syria to join ISIS.

“It was a decision I was very, very happy I made,” he said at the time. Tareq also said any muslim who didn’t take up arms had “no self-respect.”

Yesterday, it was reported that the former surfer’s diary had been found by a former currency trader, who uses the pseudonym Macer Gifford, and who’d fought for the Kurds against ISIS.

As reported by Fairfax newspapers,

“(Kamleh) had an ‘obsession with vitamin pills’ and had many bottles for various purposes.¬†Mr Gifford concluded the doctor was ‘an American Psycho-type man’, referring to the preening, charismatic but psychopathic book and film character.

“Former colleagues and acquaintances of Dr Kamleh’s have previously described him as charming but manipulative and sexually predatory.

“There was a meticulousness, an obsession with his health … He had a workout schedule of how many press-ups he was going to do. Just a neat, intelligent but slightly psychopathic character is what came across in his possessions.”

‘I don’t think he was a particularly happy character … He didn’t seem to be getting on with people there very much,’ Mr Gifford said.

Odd, but not surprising, story, yes?

Mystical worship and deep, fathomless submission only gets you so far.

Reality bites.

Now: what bad career choices have you made?

Let me start. I once spent two hundred thousand dollars on a water taxi business.

When that sank, not literally, but close when a ferry belted into the side, I poured fifty into an online surfing website.