AUS­TRALIA

IS re­cruiter Neil Prakash ‘still alive’

Malta Independent - - WORLD -

An Aus­tralian mil­i­tant thought dead is still alive and un­der arrest in the Mid­dle East, ac­cord­ing to re­ports. The Aus­tralian govern­ment in May said Neil Prakash, a se­nior re­cruiter for the so-called Is­lamic State group, had been killed in a US air strike. He died in the Iraqi city of Mo­sul, At­tor­ney Gen­eral Ge­orge Bran­dis said at the time. But the New York Times, cit­ing se­nior US sources, now re­ports that Prakash is still alive. Prakash handed him­self to Turk­ish au­thor­i­ties sev­eral weeks ago, the Aus­tralian Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion said. Min­is­ter As­sist­ing the Prime Min­is­ter for Counter-Ter­ror­ism, Michael Keenan, said the govern­ment could not com­ment on in­tel­li­gence mat­ters. “The govern­ment re­ported Prakash’s death in May on the ba­sis of ad­vice from the US govern­ment that he had been killed in an air strike,” he said in a state­ment on Fri­day. “But as we have said pre­vi­ously, the govern­ment’s ca­pac­ity to con­firm re­ports of deaths in ei­ther Syria or Iraq is lim­ited. Th­ese places are war zones, with many un­governed spaces.” Prakash, also known as Abu Khaled al-Cam­bodi, has been linked to at­tack plots in Aus­tralia and ap­peared in pro­pa­ganda videos and mag­a­zines. Us­ing the acro­nym of the pre­vi­ous name of IS, Mr Bran­dis said in May that Prakash was a “prom­i­nent Isil mem­ber and a se­nior ter­ror­ist re­cruiter and at­tack fa­cil­i­ta­tor”. “Prakash has been linked to sev­eral Aus­tralia-based at­tack plans and calls for lone-wolf at­tacks against the United States,” he said. “He has ac­tively re­cruited Aus­tralian men, women and chil­dren, and en­cour­aged acts of ter­ror­ism.” The Mel­bourne man, of Cam­bo­dian and Fi­jian her­itage, con­verted to Is­lam from Bud­dhism in 2012. He left Aus­tralia for Syria in 2013.

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