High-profile IS recruiter seeks Australia's help as he faces terror charges

 

Months after his arrest in Turkey for planning terrorism acts on Australians, Melbourne-born top Islamic State recruiter Neil Prakash is begging the government to help him as he faces international criminal proceedings.

Turkey agreed in March to a request from the Australian government to extradite Prakash, who has been linked to several Australia-based attack plans and has appeared in Islamic State videos and magazines.

Australia alleges that Prakash actively recruited Australian men, women and children and encouraged acts of terrorism.

The Australian government wrongly reported in 2015, based on US intelligence, that Prakash had been killed in an airstrike in Mosul, Iraq. It later confirmed one of the nation’s most notorious terrorists, also known as Abu Khalid al-Cambodi, was detained in Turkey.

Melbourne-born IS recruiter Neil Prakash is begging the government to help him as he faces international criminal proceedings. Picture: 7 News

The government announced financial sanctions against him in 2015, including anyone giving him financial assistance, with punishment of up to 10 years in jail.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had previously described him as "ruthless".

Turkish officials caught him trying to cross the Turkish-Syrian border on October 24 arrest and Prakash has since been detained in a maximum security jail in Gaziantep, near the border.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop confirmed Prakash has sought consular assistance for the Turkish proceedings.

Prakash was believed to have been killed earlier this year in a drone strike, but it was later confirmed he survived. Picture: 7 News

A special permit was needed to assist Prakash, because he had previously been listed as a proscribed person, which would implicate anyone who assisted him as guilty of a crime.

It was revealed consular officials had provided Prakash “basic’’ aid, including liaison with local authorities and two jail visits so far.

Ms Bishop told News Corp Turkish criminal proceedings would need to be resolved before his extradition to Australia.

“If he were surrendered to Australia I expect him to face prosecution for very serious offences,’’ she said.

The 27-year-old was born in Melbourne to a Fijian father and a Cambodian mother and converted to Islam in 2012.

He had been in contact with Sydney schoolboy killer Fahad Jabar and Melbourne teen Numan Haider, who was shot dead after stabbing two police officers.

Prakash was also alleged to be the international point of contact in the plot to behead a police officer on Anzac Day.

In early 2013 he travelled to Syria, with his Australian passport cancelled 18 months later.

Prakash admitted to a Turkish court that he trained at an Islamic State camp in al-Raqqa, then went to the front line and fought with a Kalashnikov weapon against the Kurds, News Corp reported.

“We fought for about two weeks. I used Kalashnikov guns. I don’t know if I killed any members of the PYD/PKK in the fights I took part in,’’ he said.

Turkish criminal proceedings would need to be resolved before his extradition to Australia. Picture: 7 News

He reportedly told police in Turkey he married a Dutch jihadi bride while in Syria fighting for Islamic State and fathered two children. Australian descent laws entitle citizenship for any child born overseas by at least one Australian parent.

The children and their mother are believed to still be in Syria, however the foreign minister has refused to comment on the status of any children.

Earlier reports suggested Islamic State militants in the Middle East used a drone strike to murder a baby, believed to be Prakash’s, as he attempted to flee the caliphate and return to Australia. The identity of Prakash’s wife is unclear.

Australia continues its bid to bring Prakash home to face Australian justice.

He is expected to be charged with foreign fighting offences with terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq. If convicted, Prakash would face life in prison.

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