Father of Sydney terror suspect Omar Al-Kutobi speaks about his life

Omar Al-Kutobi’s father, Ahmad, spoke to his son from Germany on Tuesday in a phone call that was like any other between the close pair.


“He told me he [was] working as a truck driver,” Ahmad told Fairfax Media. “And asked me about his mother. That is all. Everything was ok.”

In recent months, Mohammed Kiad changed his appearance.

In recent months, Mohammed Kiad changed his appearance. Photo: Facebook

But just hours later, police stormed the granny flat Al-Kutobi, 24, shared with Mohammed Kiad, 25, and allegedly thwarted the most serious terror attack Australia has been faced with.

The pair were allegedly just hours away from harming or killing someone in Sydney using either a machete or a knife purchased just an hour earlier from a Smithfield supplies store.

Friends, family and neighbours painted a picture of two friendly men who showed no signs of radicalisation until about six months ago.

The granny flat in Sydney's west, shared by the two men, raided by police on Tuesday.

The granny flat in Sydney’s west, shared by the two men, raided by police on Tuesday. Photo: Daniel Munoz

Both men were unknown to authorities and police had to received a tip-off about the imminent attack only on Tuesday and were forced to act immediately.

Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan said police no longer had the luxury of sitting back and investigating terrorism cases.

“We have to be nimble,” he said on Wednesday. “Some times the information might come to us very, very quickly and we don’t have the luxury of not being able to act. We can’t afford to take the risk in counter-terrorism matters.”

Al-Kutobi’s father, who worked as a translator with the US army in Iraq, spent thousands of dollars to send his son to Australia on his own in 2009, away from the troubles of their homeland.

From Germany, he told Fairfax Media his son was lonely and tired as he tried to balance working as a removalist with studying nursing, a course he transferred into from IT because he couldn’t find any computer-related jobs.

“He told [me] many times to come to him because he is alone,” he said.

But he loved Australia and became a citizen in 2013, Ahmad said. His father even sent him some American coins from the US Army recently.

“I was thinking to travel to the USA and he told me, ‘don’t go, come here, Australia is much better’.”

Kiad was also described by a former colleague at a security company as quiet, friendly and open-minded.

“He is quiet, friendly and seemed to be open-minded about religion,” said the man, who did not want to be identified.

“He seems very quiet at first, but when you get to know him, he is actually a funny person. He never talked about Islam or anything to me.”

Kiad couldn’t transfer his nursing qualifications when he moved to Australia from Kuwait in 2013 and worked as a removalist with Al-Kutobi but was sacked in the last week, Fairfax understands.

His social media profiles show a love for Rolex watches, weight-lifting and listening to music.

However, widespread counter-terrorism raids in Sydney in September and the Lindt Cafe siege in December appeared to take a heavy toll on both men, a neighbour, Michael, said.

Mr Kiad shaved his moustache and started wearing a bandana or scarf around his head in a style which was “like the ISIS guys you see on TV,” Michael said.

Ms Heisele-Brown said the two men almost never talked about their religious or political views, but on one occasion Al-Kutobi had expressed a dislike for Christians.

“He just said ‘I don’t like Christians – they don’t believe’,” Ms Heisele-Brown recalled.

She said that one day she arrived home to discover that the large crucifix and picture of Jesus outside the door to her room had been taken down and put in the rubbish.