Many Aussies remember Azahari Husin as Azari, graduate of Adelaide University, a nice and likeable sort of bloke, with an irrepressible humour. A fun bloke, and known as a ‘mad bugger’, he was full of harmless banter. They even recalled he drove an Audi sports car.
At Adelaide University, he had a good time, buying a motorcycle, crossing the Nullarbor, partying, etc. John Cooper, an Australian academic at the University of Technology in Malaysia, where Azahari taught said, "He was a guy who could always make people laugh."
But they say that likeable Azahari died long long ago.
When that 'old' Azahari 'vanished', a completely new and strange Azahari Husin evolved, becoming the world's most wanted bomb maker and mass murderer.
Azahari began his murderous role, ironically killing many innocent Aussies, including women and children, people he once liked, after involvement with a fanatic religious group in Indonesia, Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). Captured JI operatives who knew him said Azahari liked to watch the consequences of his bombs and suicide volunteers from a safe distance, especially the moment before their deaths and those of the victims.
Azahari seemed proud to be known as the most wanted man in South-East Asia. He had planned more killings. Friends think his religious perverted zeal started when a Muslim faith healer helped him and his wife with their desire to have children. He then was blessed with a son.
When he went to Indonesia in 1996, he was shocked by President Suharto's repression of Muslims. I have often blogged on how the Indon military under the Suharto regime placed nationalism above all else, especially religious sectarianism.
Together with Noordin Mohammed Top, he became deeply involved in JI’s religious fundamentalism and sinister operations. His involvement culminated in him being sent by the then JI operations commander Mukhlas to Afghanistan in 2000 to learn bomb making. When he returned he virtually wrote the JI instruction manual on killing by terrorist bombings.
Azahari Husin - Malaysian, fun university undergraduate, nice bloke, friendly colleague, good teacher, loving family man, religious fanatic, sinister bomb maker, murderous terrorist who loved to watch the moments before his evil creation turned a happy place full of innocent men, women and children, people he once liked, into bloody carnage.