You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

NZer on US terrorist watch list was 'fairly harmless'

Radio New Zealand logo Radio New Zealand 30/03/2017
Replay Video

Mark John Taylor, originally from Hamilton, has been named by the United States government as someone who has committed, or poses a significant risk of, committing a terrorist attack against the United States.

The State Department said Taylor, 43, had been fighting in Syria with IS since late 2014, and appeared in a 2015 propaganda video to encourage attacks in Australia and New Zealand.

Taylor, along with four others, faces sanctions, with US citizens forbidden from having any dealings with him.

Former Army friend Logan Bartlett met Taylor in 1997 when they were both based at the Artillery Headquarters in Waiouru.

Mr Bartlett said he struggled to believe Taylor was dangerous.

"I would have described him as fairly harmless, probably lost. He was a super nice guy, and I don't think he has it in him to do anything particularly dangerous. He's just fallen in with the wrong crowd." Mr Bartlett said Taylor was seeking meaning in his life. 

Mark John Taylor poses a risk of carrying out a terrorist attack, the US says. © 60 minutes / Screenshot Mark John Taylor poses a risk of carrying out a terrorist attack, the US says.

"Maybe they value him, or he's one of those people who has to be needed, or he's lacking something in his life, so he wanted to find a purpose. But obviously, he chose the wrong sort of route."

The US State Department said Taylor had been fighting in Syria with IS since the fall of 2014, and has appeared in a 2015 propaganda video to encourage attacks in Australia and New Zealand.

The department said his aliases included Mohammad Daniel, Abu Abdul Rahman and Mark John al-Rahman. He was believed to be in Raqqa, Syria.

The US state department said: "Taylor is a New Zealand national who has been fighting in Syria with ISIS since the fall of 2014. Taylor has used social media, including appearing in a 2015 ISIS propaganda video, to encourage terrorist attacks in Australia and New Zealand."

A spokesperson for Chris Finlayson, the Minister responsible for intelligence and security agencies, said the US had kept the New Zealand government informed on the issue.

The US told the government in advance that it was going to designate Taylor a terrorist.

Taylor dubbed the 'bumbling jihadi'

Taylor was detained and deported from Pakistan in February 2009 on suspicion of links with militants.

In 2011, Wikileaks published documents saying Taylor had links to al-Qaeda. John Key, who was Prime Minister, responded by saying the Kiwi public had nothing to fear from Taylor, who, Mr Key said, was at that time living in New Zealand under restrictions.

According to reports, Taylor last year set up a LinkedIn account calling himself an "education management professional" in Syria and previously communicated with journalists over social media.

Twitter has suspended Taylor's account.

Media dubbed him the "bumbling jihidi" in 2014 after he revealed his location to intelligence agencies by tweeting with his geotagging tracking function still switched on.

In 2015 he put a video on YouTube calling for terrorist action in New Zealand. It was removed after only a few views.

More From Radio New Zealand

Radio New Zealand
Radio New Zealand
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon