Ex-IS fighter Abu Khaled al-Cambodi pleads for government help from Australia | News | DW | 13.08.2017
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Ex-IS fighter Abu Khaled al-Cambodi pleads for government help from Australia

Abu Khaled al-Cambodi, once a key figure in the so-called Islamic State, now wants Australia's help. He has spent the past 10 months in a maximum security prison in Turkey.

A key recruiter and former fighter for the so-called "Islamic State" who is in jail in Turkey has pleaded for assistance from the Australian government, officials confirmed on Sunday.

Melbourne-born Neil Prakash, who went under the nom de guerre Abu Khaled al-Cambodi, was arrested 10 months ago as he tried to cross into Turkey from Syria.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop confirmed to Australian news outlets that he was receiving "basic assistance." An investigation by News Corp paper the Herald Sun found that assistance had come at the request of Prakash himself.

Read more: Australia hopes to extradite top IS recruiter from Turkey

Prosecutors have accused him of recruiting Australians into IS and supporting their journeys to Syria, as well as plotting terror attacks and encouraging other attacks in Australia.

Health Minister Greg Hunt told private broadcaster, Channel Seven, that the Australian government was interested in receiving IS intelligence from Prakash.

"That's our interest, precisely so as to protect Australians at home and abroad," Bishop's colleague said.

Due to hefty sanctions that prohibit anyone assisting Prakash, Bishop issued a special permit to enable diplomatic officials to help him, the Herald Sun reported.

Officials told Australian outlets they had twice visited the 27-year-old at a maximum security jail in the border town of Gaziantep, and liaised on his behalf with authorities in Turkey.

Dutch bride

Prakash reportedly told Turkish investigators that he had married a Dutch so-called jihadi bride with whom he had fathered two children, who would be entitled to Australian citizenship. He said the children were likely still in Syria.

Bishop told the paper that Australia had requested his extradition, where he would face "prosecution for very serious offenses." His court cases in Turkey would need to be resolved before any extradition could be made.

He likely crossed into Syria in 2013 to fight with rebel group Ahrar al-Sham but defected to IS when they declared themselves enemies. He reportedly trained with 50 to 60 IS recruits and was sent to the Kobane to fight against Kurdish soldiers.

"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 was quoted as saying.

Fled from IS

He was soon injured in battle and requested a transfer to a different unit. But after his convalescence he was ordered back to battle. He reportedly became disillusioned with the group and tried to flee, paying a people smuggler AU$4000 (US$3150, 2670 euros) to take him across the border.

"Here the Daesh (IS) commander insisted I fight again and when I said I won't fight then they threatened to kill me," he was quoted as saying.

"Then I found a way and I ran from their Raqqa headquarters."

Australian authorities reportedly tipped Turkey off to his impending crossing and he was captured.

Prakash appeared as a chief recruiter in propaganda material for IS and became one of Australia's most wanted in August 2015 when he emerged as a backer of a foiled plot to behead a police officer on Anzac Day.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has described Prakash as "ruthless." He was falsely reported as having died in an airstrike in 2016.

Watch video 00:46

"Prakash was a very important high-value target"

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