Back in 2010, there was little indication that Cleo Magazine Malaysia’s Most Eligible Bachelor of the year would go on to become a battlefield jihadist. Perth-born Amir Millson was 27 at the time, studying a degree in mass communication with hopes of pursuing a career on television. He wholesomely told the popular women’s magazine that he wanted to be prime minister. Then, six years later, he stepped on a landmine while fighting for the Islamic State—as revealed by the Herald Sun—and was killed.
Turns out Amir didn’t stay an eligible bachelor for long. Within a few years of taking out the title he’d married a woman from his hometown, had a son, and started attending prayer groups in Perth. His subsequent radicalisation—from aspiring model to Islamic extremist—was, according to a friend, a “gradual process.”
Amir grew facial hair and became acquainted with the likes of Junaid Thorne: a Saudi-Australian Islamic preacher who is infamous for his controversial views on militant groups such as ISIS. He started associating with a scattered group of would-be jihadists, including Mohammed Sheglabo—who disappeared from Perth in late 2014—and the so-called “tinny terrorists”—who allegedly planned to sail from Cape York to the Philippines to join a cabal of IS supporters, The Australian reports. By mid-2015 Amir had divorced his wife, absconded to Syria, and was posting photos of himself armed and ready to fight for the Islamic State.
News of his death was confirmed by ASIO in September this year, as the security organisation verified, in information provided to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, that he’d been “killed fighting with ISIS”. That report was somewhat scarce on the details, but a friend of Amir’s told the Herald Sun that they’d “heard when he died,” and had allegedly received messages from the frontline which detailed how he ultimately met his end.
“He was carrying a fighter on his shoulder when he stepped on a landmine,” said the friend. “That was it.”
The source described Amir fondly: as a “handsome”, “outgoing”, and “extremely friendly” man. “He was brave and courageous,” they said. “Before he left he made sure there were no strings attached. If money was owed, he paid it off. He was a great father and great husband.
“We don’t know for sure who he fought with, whether it was IS or other anti-Assad forces,” Amir’s friend added. “He was a frontline fighter assigned to a commander. The way he died, he was a martyr.”
This article originally appeared on VICE AU.