The Australian government has officially revoked the citizenship of Melbourne-born Neil Prakash, also known by alias Abu Khaled al-Cambodi, due to evidence that he was a high-ranking recruiter for ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant). Prakash is the most recent of 12 dual nationals to lose their Australian citizenships due to links with terrorist groups and activities.
Described by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton as “a very dangerous individual”, 27-year-old Prakash is connected with both an alleged plot involving the beheading of a police officer on Anzac Day, a national day of remembrance, as well as the stabbing of two police officers outside a Melbourne police station. Through his father, he holds Fijian citizenship. In 2014, his passport was cancelled and in 2015, he was added to a sanctions list. Dutton stated that “dual citizens who choose to be involved in terrorism forfeit the privileges of Australian citizenship, and I remain committed to enforcing the legal provisions that remove them.”
Former rapper Prakash has been linked to several attack plans directly threatening Australian citizens and as well as being actively involved in the recruiting of men, women, and children, he has made appearances in ISIL promotional material and encouraged extreme violence. Though he has stated publicly that he is a member of ISIL, Prakash has denied any involvement with the Australian group.
Prakash is currently being detained in Turkey in a maximum-security prison in Gaziantep following an attempt to enter the country with false documents. Australian officials are pressing for the extradition of Prakash in order to convict him of terrorist offences in Australia, potentially resulting in a life sentence. Victorian police minister Lisa Neville stated that “in the cancellation of citizenship… the Federal Government can continue to pursue strongly his extradition.”
This particular case is merely a precursor to multiple dual nationals potentially losing their status as Australian citizens. Dutton asserted that “there are a number of cases that we are looking at at the moment.” It comes along with an announcement from the Australian government that there are plans to change legislation in order to assist in the stripping of citizenship in regards to terrorism convictions.
This policy establishes a strong, Australian stance on terrorism. The Coalition states that it makes no apologies for being tough on terrorists and Dutton has made it very clear that “If given the opportunity, Mr Prakash would harm or kill Australians and our country is a safer place for him having lost his Australian citizenship.” The revocation of these citizenships sends a clear message that the tolerance for terrorist affiliation in Australia is low. The Deputy Leader of the House, Darren Chester stated further that “I think the Australian public would expect the government to revoke Australian citizenship rights of people who act contrary to [the responsibilities of being an Australian citizen].”
By taking a tough position on citizens acting in such a manner, the Australian government has demonstrated a dedication to the safety of its constituents. Neville asserted that they were “very, very keen to see [Prakash] extradited back to Australia to face the community of Victoria.” Furthermore, policies such as these should hopefully contribute to the deterrence of further recruitment and terrorist activity within Australian borders.
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