Jailed Kiwi jihadist Mark Taylor suffered brain damage as a child, relative says

A relative of ISIS fighter Mark Taylor has spoken out about his family member, as the New Zealand Government grapples with the possibility of his return home. 

Your playlist will load after this ad

Debate still swirls over whether the ISIS recruit should be able to return to New Zealand from Syria. Source: 1 NEWS

Taylor, who is originally from Hamilton, is being held in a Syrian prison after being captured by Kurdish forces. 

The relative, who did not want to be identified for fear of backlash and travel restrictions, said when Taylor was about two-years-old "he had a major fit with teething and that created a bit of brain damage".

"He went through special school... but he was brought up as a normal child."

The relative learned Taylor was in a Kurdish jail in Syria through the 6pm News. 

"What went through my head was... oh he's alive, because we actually thought he was dead."

Taylor has been in Syria for five years with limited contact with family. 

He told ABC he had few regrets about his time with ISIS, except that he did not have enough money to be able to afford to buy a slave.

"I don't know why he said that," the relative said, describing it as "one of the dumbest things [Taylor] ever said about slavery and the woman".

Taylor was re-issued a New Zealand passport in 2011 which meant he could travel to Syria. He then burnt the passport.

The debate has now been sparked about if Taylor should return to New Zealand.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has emphasised that Taylor left for Syria from Indonesia, not New Zealand.

The Government is obliged "to not make people state-less", said Ms Ardern, with Taylor only holding New Zealand citizenship.  

National Party leader Simon Bridges said "we don't want him back".

"It's not our responsibility to bail out a terrorist."

Deputy PM Winston Peters said Taylor "forfeited any right that he had when he joined a terrorist organisation". 

If Taylor was to make it back to New Zealand, he would be facing New Zealand's terrorism law, with the penalty ranging from 14 years to life imprisonment.