SYDNEY Turkey has agreed to a request from the Australian government to extradite a citizen it believes to be a top recruiter for the Islamic State militant group, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Friday.
Melbourne-born Neil Prakash 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 government announced financial sanctions against him in 2015, including anyone giving him financial assistance, with punishment of up to 10 years in jail.
“We’re looking forward – we should be getting him back within months, but it’s obviously got to go through the Turkish processes but we do have an extradition treaty,” Turnbull told Australian TV network Seven.
“We are satisfied that Neil Prakash, who has been one of the key financiers and organisers in ISIL or Daesh…will be brought back to Australia and he will face the courts,” Turnbull said referring to the Islamic State militant group.
The Australian government wrongly reported last year, based on U.S. intelligence, that Prakash had been killed in an airstrike in Mosul, Iraq. It later confirmed that Prakash was detained in Turkey.
Australia raised its national terror threat level to “high” for the first time in 2015, citing the likelihood of attacks by Australians radicalised in Iraq or Syria.
The country, a staunch ally of the United States and its action against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, believes more than 100 citizens are fighting in the region.
In December 2014, a “lone wolf” attack in a popular Sydney cafe killed two hostages following a 17-hour siege. Gunman Man Haron Monis, a self-styled sheik who sought to align himself with the Islamic State, was also killed.
In its latest budget on Tuesday, the Australian government announced it would invest over A$300 million in the Australian Federal Police to fight terrorism, providing an additional 100 intelligence experts, over 100 tactical response and covert surveillance operators, and almost 100 forensic specialists.
(Reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by Michael Perry)