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Australia’s Wanted Terrorist Neil Prakash Apologizes, Regrets Joining ISIS

Australia is seeking extradition of Neil Prakash, the 27-year-old ISIS recruiter who was arrested in Turkey last year.

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Australia’s most wanted Islamic State group member Neil Prakash took partial responsibility for the terror-related activities in the country, saying he was forced by the organization to become its recruiter. Prakash, 27, was arrested in Turkey last year, and placed in a maximum-security prison in Gaziantep province of the country.

In a hearing on Sept. 28, Prakash said that he had been naive about Islam, the Age reported. “About what happened in Australia, I was not a 100 per cent responsible. They forced me to call for attacks in Australia,” he told the court via video-link from the maximum security prison. “All I wanted was to go [to Syria and Iraq] for real Islam,” he said, adding, “I am sorry for the trouble I have caused.”

Prakash, who is of Indian-Fijian origin, said that he had fled ISIS after he saw its “true face”. He told the hearing that he later realized what “they taught me was wrong”. He said: “When I went to join ISID (the Turkish acronym of IS), I was a new Muslim. I did not have any knowledge of what Islam is. So I believed what they told me was Islam. When I learned more about Islam, I wanted to leave.”

Born in Melbourne, the former mechanic and rapper was believed to have played a role in several terror-related incidents in Australia, including making appearances in propaganda videos. He was described by Australian authorities as the most dangerous ISIS recruiter in the region, and linked to foiled terror incidents such as a knife attack by an 18-year-old against two policemen in Melbourne. He was reported to have converted from Buddhism to Islam in 2012 after he visited Cambodia and grew disenchanted with the religion on seeing the commercialism around it.

He attended Islamic prayer meetings in Melbourne before becoming a jihadist. He left for Syria in 2013, and assumed the name Abu Khaled al-Cambodi in Syria and Iraq.

“I did not tell this to your court before because I feared for my life; but when I wanted to leave, they threatened to kill me,” Prakash said while an Australian Embassy official listened on in court as an observer, according to the Age.

Prakash has been remanded in prison until the next hearing on Dec. 26. Australia’s Justice Minister Michael Keenan said last year that the government had formally requested his extradition.

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