WHEN two Portland police officersresponded in November towhat appeared to be a routinecomplaint of illegal shooters in theCapertee Valley they were not toknow that among them they wereabout to come face to face withtwo men who were to become themost reviled Muslim extremists inAustralia.

The complaint related to gunfirethat had been going on forquite some time on private propertyon Crown Station Road in thevalley.

There were four men and asmall boy.

That now seven year old boy,innocuous at the time, was tobecome the symbol of internationalrevulsion in the past weekwhen photographs appeared ofhim holding the severed head of aSyrian soldier.

It was that image — describedby US Secretary of State John Kerryas ‘stomach churning’ — morethan anything that confirmed thepsychopathic madness of the conflictsthat began in Syria and havesince spread with devastatingimpact to a war weary Iraq.

It also brought home to Australia the realisationof the extreme undercurrent existingin this nation and, at least on thisoccasion, in the Lithgow area.

The boy’s father, Khalled Sharrouf, fledAustralia on his brother’s passport lessthan a month later to join with the brutalextremists seeking to establish an Islamicstate.

His Australian born wife and five childrenlater followed him to the war zone.

Sharrouf posted the sickening photoon social media with the equally sickeningcomment ‘that’s my boy’.

It was Sharrouf and that unfortunatelittle boy in the party that confronted thepolice officers that afternoon in theCapertee Valley.

With them were two other men on thenation’s terrorist watch, one of whom hasalso since that time been prominent insocial media posts from Syria, plus afourth man who up to that time wasbelow the radar.

Sharrouf is on federal authorities’ mostwanted list but is not expected to returnto Australia.

The men did not cause problems forthe police and two were charged withfirearms offences.

Another of these, Mohamad Elomar,has since fled the country, also to join thejihadists in Syria, and a warrant has beenissued for his arrest.

The Capertee alarm had its sequel inLithgow local Court yesterday when onemember of the party faced two chargesrelating to the unlawful use of firearms.

The matter was adjourned without anyevidence being taken to be re-listed in thesame court on October 17.

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