Canberra: Australia is attempting to extradite from Turkey a man suspected of being a high-profile Australian recruiter for Daesh (the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), the government said on Saturday.
The Australian government described Neil Prakash, also known as Abu Khalid Al Cambodi, as “the most dangerous Australian” involved with the extremist movement in the Middle East when he was reported killed in May by a US air strike in the Iraqi city of Mosul.
Justice Minister Michael Keenan said Saturday the 24-year-old had survived the attack and was now in custody in Turkey.
“An individual we believe to be Neil Prakash has been arrested and detained in Turkey pursuant to Turkish legal processes,” Keenan’s office said in a statement, adding that Australia had filed a formal extradition request.
The statement did not say how the 24-year-old came to be in Turkey or how long he had been in custody. His arrest was the result of close collaboration between Australian and Turkish authorities, it said.
The Turkish Embassy in Canberra did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday.
The Australian-born citizen of Cambodian and Fijian parents converted from Buddhism in 2012, and traveled to Syria a year later.
The former rapper from Melbourne city has featured in Daesh recruitment videos, has been linked to several attack plans in Australia and has urged lone wolf attacks against the United States.
Prakash is the suspected inspiration for a 15-year-old Australian boy who was shot dead by police soon after he fatally shot a civilian police employee outside the state police headquarters in Sydney in October last year.
Prakash is also suspected of motivating an 18-year-old Australian who was shot dead after he stabbed two policemen outside a Melbourne police station in September 2014.
Prakash faces a potential life prison sentence if he is convicted in Australia of terrorism offences.
Keenan’s office said his government reported Prakash’s death in May on the basis of advice from the United States.
“The government’s capacity to confirm reports of deaths in either Syria or Iraq is limited,” the statement said.
Attorney-General George Brandis described Prakash at the timer of his reported death as “a very important, high-value target.”