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IS recruiter Neil Prakash survived drone strike, arrested in Middle East

world Updated: Nov 25, 2016 21:57 IST
HT Correspondent
Islamic State

File photo of Islamic State recruiter Neil Prakash, the child of Cambodian and Fijian migrants.(Courtesy LiveLeak)

Australia’s most wanted Islamic State terror suspect Neil Prakash, who was believed to have been killed in an air strike earlier this year, is still alive and was recently arrested by a Middle Eastern government, according to a media report.

Prakash, the child of Cambodian and Fijian migrants, was wounded when he was targeted in a drone strike in Iraq in April, The New York Times reported.

“In the last few weeks, however, a Middle Eastern government arrested Mr Prakash, another senior American military official said,” the report added without giving details or naming the country that had detained the IS operative.

Prakash, who was known as Abu Khaled al-Cambodi, was linked to several failed attacks in Sydney and Melbourne. Australian and American authorities had earlier said he had a prominent and influential role as a senior recruiter for the group.

Australia’s attorney general George Brandis called him “the most dangerous Australian involved with ISIL in the Middle East”, using an acronym for the Islamic State. “If you wanted to describe him as Australia’s number one terrorist you wouldn’t be off the mark,” Brandis told Sky News.

Australia had been informed by US authorities in May that Prakash died in Mosul, Iraq, on April 29 after Canberra provided intelligence on his identity and location.

Besides being linked to several Australia-based attack plans, Prakash had called for lone-wolf attacks against the US.

He was a member of several Melbourne gangs as a teenager. He converted to Islam in 2012 in the company of Harun Mehicevic, a radical preacher linked to Melbourne’s al-Furqan Islamic Centre. Prakash sneaked into Syria in 2013 and appeared in several IS propaganda videos.

In recent months, Australia has worked closely with the US to target Australian nationals fighting with the IS in Iraq and Syria. Australian officials have said some 60 Australians have so far been killed fighting in Iraq or Syria.