The dilemma of ‘Kiwi Jihadi’ Mark Taylor

An Analysis by Peter Wilson

The government has to deal with the possible return of New Zealand’s first “Kiwi Jihadi” and the serious implications of the census that went wrong.

The government would clearly prefer Mark Taylor to lose himself somewhere in the world other than New Zealand.

There’s no precedent for the “Kiwi Jihadi” situation that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern faced last fortnight. She had to take heed of New Zealand’s obligations under international law while not wanting to be seen to encourage a highly undesirable individual to come home.

About Mark Taylor

Taylor is being held in a Kurdish prison in Syria after apparently surrendering, with no food or money and only bad options in front of him.

The 42-year-old left five years ago to join ISIS, which is now clinging desperately to its last tiny stronghold in Syria. When he arrived he said that he would stay there until he achieved martyrdom, and has since changed his mind.

“I don’t know whether I can go back to New Zealand, but at the end of the day, it is something I have to live with for the rest of my life,” he told the ABC.

Charges possible

He can come back to New Zealand but it will be extremely difficult and if he does. he’ll almost certainly be charged with terrorist offences committed outside the country.

Taylor burned his New Zealand passport and declared himself a citizen of ISIS when he joined it. His story now is that he burned it because someone else was going to take it and use it for a false identity.

So he has a problem. New Zealand has no representation in Syria and to get a temporary passport he has to travel to a country where it does. The closest is Turkey.

The government can’t refuse to issue the temporary passport because no country can make a person stateless.

But it’s not going to help him get to Turkey or anywhere else.

Arden’s statement

“We have consistently told Mark Taylor that we cannot help him obtain a travel document, he would need to make his own way to a country where New Zealand has consular representation something that in his current situation would be difficult to do,” Ms Ardern said at her post-cabinet press conference this week.

Ms Ardern didn’t explain how Taylor had been “consistently told” this information.

He has said there was contact with New Zealand intelligence officials but the Prime Minister wouldn’t comment on that.

She went on at length, and several times, about the warnings that were issued against anyone going to Syria.

The message was that Taylor got himself into this, so he can get himself out of it.

The above is the edited version. For full text, please visit

Peter Wilson is a Life Member of Parliament Press Gallery, 22 years as NZPA Political Editor and seven as Parliamentary Bureau Chief for NZ Newswire. The above article and Picture have been published under a Special Agreement with


Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (left) and Mark Taylor (RNZ Photo)

Related posts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: