A young Australian Muslim man has been mistakenly labelled a “teenage terrorist” on the front cover of two Australian newspapers owned by Fairfax Media.
The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age used the picture of Abu Bakar Alam, 19, to run the story of a young boy shot dead by Australian police after he had stabbed two officers.
However, the boy killed was Numan Haider, 18, suspected of being involved in a plot to kill Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
“I’m gutted,” Alam told Melbourne-based radio station 3AW after the incident.
“This is going to take a while, but we’re going to sit down as a family and work out what’s going to be the best for us.
“And for my future. This is not something small. This is going to affect my future as well.”
He added he is scared to leave his house, fearing repercussions.
The teenager’s father called the newspapers for an explanation on the mistake.
“They have introduced my son as a terrorist in this country,” Sher Alam told the Herald Sun.
“We are innocent, we are not terrorists,” he continued. “Someone called me and said ‘What happenedto your son?’ I said, ‘My son is alive, who said my son is a terrorist?’
“This morning he [Alam] was crying, he said, ‘With this now how can I go out and face people?
“We just came [to Australia from Afghanistan] to survive and here again we are facing the same situation that we ran away from there, now here this newspaper and people who publish this news have introduced my family to this community as terrorists.”
Fairfax posted an apology statement on its website, saying:
“One of the photographs run on this website and Fairfax papers in relation to the death of Numan Haider was published in error. The young man in a suit was not Mr Haider, and we unreservedly apologise to him for the error.
“The young man has no connection whatsoever with any extremist or terrorist group and we deeply regret any such inference arising from the publication of the photograph. The picture has been withdrawn from circulation.”
Who is Abu Bakar Alam?
Alam is the third son of a successful academic family highly respected in Australia’s Afghani community.
He is studying at Minaret College in Springvale and plays cricket in his free time.
His grandfather, Hakim Taniwal, was killed by a terrorist suicide bomber in Kabul in 2006. Taniwal returned to Afghanistan, after four years in Australia, to act as a governor in a troubled province of the country.
He was targeted by the terrorists, who were killing moderate pro-Western leaders.