Australia asks Turkey to extradite ISIS terror suspect

Prakash, seen here in an ISIS propaganda video, rose through the ranks to become a leading recruiter for the terror group.
Prakash, seen here in an ISIS propaganda video, rose through the ranks to become a leading recruiter for the terror group.PHOTO: YOUTUBE

Aussie citizen Neil Prakash, linked to attack plans at home, said to be a recruiter for group

SYDNEY • An Australian citizen believed to be a top recruiter for ISIS has been arrested by the Turkish authorities and will be subject to a formal extradition request from Australia, the Australian government said yesterday.

A man believed to be Neil Prakash, who was linked to several Australia-based attack plans, has been detained in Turkey and was being interrogated by the Turkish authorities, a government spokesman said in an e-mailed statement.

"The arrest of the person we believe is Prakash is the result of close collaboration between Australian and the Turkish authorities," the spokesman said.

Melbourne-born Prakash appeared in Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) videos and magazines and actively recruited Australian men, women and children, and encouraged acts of terrorism, the Australian government said in May.

The spokesman said Australia was working closely with the Turkish authorities and Prakash would be subject to a formal extradition request.

Australia said in May that Prakash was killed in an airstrike in Mosul, Iraq, on April 29, based on US intelligence.

But the New York Times reported on Friday that he had been wounded in the attack and survived. The Australian government subsequently confirmed he was alive.

Australia last year announced financial sanctions against Prakash, including threatening anyone giving financial assistance with punishment of up to 10 years in jail.

Prakash, who is in his mid-20s, left Australia in 2013.

He has been linked to a failed Melbourne plot to behead a police officer in April last year, as well as to an 18-year-old who was killed after stabbing two police officers in Melbourne in 2014.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called Prakash the senior Australian operative in ISIS.

"Prakash and others ruthlessly target and groom our children - vulnerable children - with hateful propaganda of terrorism which perverts the religion of Islam," Mr Turnbull told the Parliament in May.

Known as Abu Khaled al-Cambodi, Prakash was reportedly on a list of high-value ISIS recruiters targeted by the US in drone attacks in Iraq.

He worked with an English-speaking cell trying to radicalise people in the West to fight for ISIS.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 27, 2016, with the headline 'Australia asks Turkey to extradite ISIS terror suspect'. Print Edition | Subscribe