, SYDNEY, Aug 12 – The grandfather of a boy pictured holding a severed head in Syria said the shocking image brought him to tears, with the growing problem of jihadists fighting overseas a focus of US-Australia talks Tuesday.
The image of the Sydney-raised boy posing with the rotting head of a soldier, posted on the Twitter account of his father Khaled Sharrouf, an Australian who fled to Syria last year and is now an Islamic State fighter, sparked outrage.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott and US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said it showed how barbaric IS militants had become, while Australian Muslim leaders expressed widespread revulsion.
The seven-year-old boy’s grandfather Peter Nettleton, who is estranged from his daughter Tara, Sharrouf’s wife, begged the government to help bring the boy and his siblings home.
“I’m scared for the children. What life are they going to have now,” the Sydney truck driver told Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph.
“Can’t the government do something to pull these kids away from that man?
“That (picture) brought me to tears because I don’t know how to handle it.”
Another photo published by newspapers in Australia showed Sharrouf dressed in camouflage fatigues posing with three young boys believed to be his sons.
All were holding guns in front of the flag of the Islamic State militants who have swept across Iraq and Syria, seizing swathes of territory.
Fairfax media said it had seen another image of one of the boys wearing an explosives belt.
Australia has an arrest warrant out for Sharrouf, who fled the country last year using his brother’s passport after serving almost four years in prison when he pleaded guilty over a 2005 conspiracy to attack Sydney.
Nettleton, whose daughter cut off ties with him when she married and converted to Islam, said he thought his five grandchildren – three boys and two girls – were staying with Sharrouf’s sister in Malaysia while he fought in Syria.
A friend of Sharrouf’s, Mohamed Elomar, who is also a wanted man and is fighting in Syria, reacted to the photo of the boy with a tweet to “keep them heads rolling”, the Telegraph reported.