CANBERRA, Australia, An Australian senior recruiter for the Islamic State was recently killed in Mosul in a U.S. airstrike amid an escalating military offensive to take back Iraq’s second-largest city.
Neil Prakash, 24, was targeted directly by a U.S. fighter plane on Friday, the Australian government announced Thursday. He was central to the Islamic State’s online recruitment effort that sought to bring sympathizers to Iraq and Syria.
Prakash, also known as Abu Khaled al-Cambodi, was born in Melbourne and converted to Islam from Buddhism in 2012. His parents had immigrated to Australia from Cambodia and Fiji. He died along with up to 10 other IS militants. There are believed to be about 110 Australians in the Middle East fighting for the Islamic State, also known as Daesh, ISIS and ISIL.
Australian Attorney-General George Brandis made the announcement of the killing of Prakash, calling him a “prominent ISIL member and a senior terrorist recruiter and attack facilitator.”
“He has appeared in ISIL propaganda videos and magazines and has actively recruited Australian men, women and children, and encouraged acts of terrorism,” Brandis said. “His death disrupts and degrades ISIL’s ability to recruit vulnerable people in our community to conduct terrorist acts.”
“Prakash has been linked to several Australia-based attack plans and calls for lone-wolf attacks against the United States,” Brandis added.
Brandis also said Shadi Jabar Khalil Mohammad, an Australian woman believed to also have worked as an IS recruiter, was killed in a separate attack on April 22. She was the sister of Farhad Jabar, a 15-year-old accused of killing a Sydney police officer in October.
Iraqi security forces launched an offensive to retake the city of Mosul from Islamic State control in March. The effort began by isolating the city from surrounding areas and slowly chipping away at IS territory and supply routes, aided by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes. The Kurdish Peshmerga have since joined the effort.