BEIRUT: A New Zealand national thought to have been killed in Syria is alive and well and in the western United States, according to New Zealand media reports.
Chen Weiming, a Chinese-born artist, acknowledged that he had traveled to Syria to fight with armed insurgents and vowed to return, the reports said, placing him in both Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
Officials from New Zealand had earlier said they were investigating reports that one of their nationals had been killed in the conflict. The reports quoted Weiming as saying that he planned to return to New Zealand to raise money for his next trip to Syria.
“There’s a struggle in Syria – I should help,” he was quoted as saying. Weiming said he was unaware of other New Zealanders in Syria, but did know a number of Australian nationals who had traveled to the war-torn country.
Officials from Australia and a number of Western countries have in recent months warned that thousands of their citizens were being lured to fight in Syria with hard-line Islamist groups, saying they feared the consequences of their return.