It’s been called one of the most ambitious TV projects in recent Australian history, but SBS’ Go Back To Where You Came From Live captured more than it bargained for as cameras caught the moment former Aussie senator Jacqui Lambie was forced to flee for safety after being caught up in a terrifying ISIS attack recently.
The show, which aired its first of three episodes on Tuesday night, revealed the moment both Jacqui and her 28-year-old companion Marina, a Sydney immigration lawyer, were forced to sprint up flights of stairs in war-torn Syria to escape harm as gun shots rained down outside.
Breaking down in tears on camera, Marina appeared to be overcome by terror after reaching safe ground, while Jacqui, 47, admitted she was relying on her faith which helped her combat her fear.
The pair were being evacuated to a nearby city when Islamist militants attacked the police compound they were visiting.
Abandoning the car, they ran inside a building with cameras following their every move.
“My problem is now, are we the target?” Jacqui said on camera. “That’s the question we need to ask.”
Breaking down in tears, Marina, who previously fled Sarajevo for Australia as a child to escape the Bosnian War, said: “Right now we were confronted with some unfriendly fire… All we could hear were people running.”
Describing the gun shots outside, she tearfully added: “I thought about my family and my partner and what it would be like for me to lose them or them to lose me.”
Asking Jacqui if she was scared, the politician, who has army training, replied: “No, I don’t. No, cause of my faith.” She added: “I just believe when my day’s up, it’s up. It’s that simple with me.”
Recalling the terrifying moment they first heard the gun shots, the pair appeared live from a safe location in Syria and explained: “We were getting in our car there was a short burst of gun fire. Suddenly we were very aware of what was going on. Then there was a second burst of gun fire.
“We heard something about a bomb or a suicide bomber. We were very lucky that we had police and our own security around us… There was a lot of confusion in those minutes over where the gun shots were coming from and who they were aimed at.”
Subsequent media reports claimed the attack was designed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of ISIS declaring an Islamic caliphate in the Middle East. Several ISIS fighters were confirmed dead in the attack, with police eventually gaining back control.
Elsewhere on the show, Jacqui was filmed firing an AK-47 assault rifle, leaving her companions visibly shocked.
Marina stood open-mouthed behind some soldiers before uttering “far out” as Jacqui fired the weapon – proving she hasn’t forgotten her past military training.
While Marina admitted on camera that she “feels like running away”, she then asked Jacqui how it feels for her being there and hearing gunshots, having been trained in the army. The politician replied: “Do you know what, to be honest with you, I know this sounds terrible but it makes me wanna go pick up a weapon and go help out.”
Luckily, she was only shooting at a target in the footage that followed. From there, the pair were led through dangerous grounds littered with mines before coming face to face with a decaying dead body – the horrific aftermath of a recent battle with ISIS in the area.
“It’s someone from Daesh. His body is decomposing it’s all swollen, there’s been animals eating at it, it’s changed colour,” Marina said on camera as she stood back – unable to go closer. “I just feel like I want to be sick, humanity can be so cruel and, you know, all this for an ideology. It’s too much.”
Before kickstarting her political career, Jacqui served in the Australian Army and the Royal Australian Corps of Military Police. She used her platform as Tasmanian Senator from 2014-2017 to campaign on foreign affairs and veterans’ affairs. She also famously sparked controversy for campaigning to ban the burqa in Australia.
“We need to worry about our own backyard first,” she said elsewhere on the show. “You have the Chinese in one place, the bloody Muslims in one place, the Indians are taking over the suburbs. That’s not integration.”
Jacqui and Marina were joined by comedian Meshel Laurie, ex-AFL player Spida Everitt, writer Gretel Killeen, prison youth worker and anti-refugee provocateur Steve, student Gareth and young conservative Dannii.
The stars appeared live on camera from Syria, Turkey and South Sudan after meeting refugees battling to survive there.
In more terrifying footage, Spida and Meshel had to stop in the middle of South Sudan to get water but were met with open stares from people lining the streets – forcing a scared Meshel to rush back to the car.
“We got over-confident. It got very tense very quickly… They were looking at us like we were the threat,” she admitted.