ISIS fighter Neil Prakash’s extradition may take years after shock court hearing
AUSTRALIA’S most wanted terrorist Neil Prakash claims to have fathered at least three children by two wives while fighting with Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
News Corp Australia can reveal what the Melbourne-born monster told Turkish investigators when he was arrested in 2016 after fleeing across the border from Syria.
He admitted to them he had fathered children with two jihadi brides — a Dutch-Syrian woman and a French-Syrian woman.
In two cases, each had given birth about a month apart, according to Prakash’s claims, relayed to News Corp Australia by one officer through an intermediary.
Those two children would now be aged about 20 and 21 months. All would be eligible for Australian citizenship. But the whereabouts of the children and their mothers are unknown, and it cannot be confirmed they are still alive.
“He was consistent about his wives,’’ the officer said. “He has two wives. The (children) was one month old (when he was arrested). He was rewarded as a senior ISIS fighter, an emir, with two wives.’’
Turkish authorities tonight opened up a new legal front against Prakash, in a move that could delay his return to Australia for years.
Prakash appeared by videolink in a criminal court in the border town of Kilis, on terrorism charges.
The Islamic State recruiter and financier is wanted in Australia on charges of being a member of a terrorist organisation and “incursions into a foreign state with the intention of engaging in hostile activity’’.
After a 15-minute hearing, the Kilis Criminal Court delayed his case again to July 19. With an election in Turkey just a month away, the Prakash case has now been delayed three times.
Last year, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he expected Prakash would be back in Australia within months.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has also restated the government’s interest in prosecuting Prakash here.
In Kilis tonight, prosecutor Serdar Durmus revealed Turkish authorities were looking at whether Prakash, as a member of a terrorist organisation, had committed a crime against the state inside Turkey.
He said they needed more time to probe Prakash’s involvement with ISIS in Turkey. If convicted, Prakash, 27, would get a long jail term which would delay any proceedings in Australia for years.
Prakash has admitted several times being a member of Islamic State, and repeated the admission to the court tonight, saying: “On the first charge of being a member of ISIS, that is true.
“But the second charge (committing a crime against the state in Turkey), I had nothing to do with.
“Fully investigate it, but the more investigations you do, you’re not going to find anything because I had nothing to do with that charge.’’
Mr Durmus told the court he wanted Prakash held in jail while two files against him were “unified’’.
One of those was tonight revealed as an investigation opened in 2016 into whether Prakash had committed crimes against the state in Turkey.
Convictions on such charges result in harsh punishment.
“We are asking, after that file has been brought and unified with our case, a decision has to be made whether to extradite to Australia, or if he is guilty or not,’’ Mr Durmus said.
Prakash’s court-appointed lawyer Mehmet Alper Unver said news of the new investigation file had come as a surprise, and could result in further penalty for his client.
He said if convicted, Prakash “after he has served his time in Turkey, maybe he would be extradited. But as the file is new, we don’t see any evidence, we don’t know anything about it,’’ he said.
Mr Unver made another bid to have Prakash released on parole, but the judge declined, ordering him to continue to be held in the same prison at Gaziantep, a city 50km to the north. He has been detained there since his arrest after sneaking across the Syrian border near Kilis on October 24, 2016.
Mr Unver said outside court that Prakash had not committed any crime against Turkey.
“This is a new development for us, we were not knowing about this investigation and it seems that it is the first time that Prakash is being related to a crime in Turkey,’’ he said.
Prakash, who recorded propaganda videos for Islamic State and used social media accounts to urge followers to launch attacks, is the most senior Australian ISIS terrorist to be captured alive.
He would potentially be the first senior figure extradited and charged under legislation introduced in 2015