Australian jihadist, on trial in Turkey, 'regrets joining ISIL'

Australian jihadist, on trial in Turkey, 'regrets joining ISIL'

ISTANBUL - Agence France-Presse
Australian jihadist, on trial in Turkey, regrets joining ISIL

An Australian jihadist detained by Turkey last year on charges of joining Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria said at his trial on Sept. 28 he regretted his involvement with the organisation after seeing its "true face.”

Neil Prakash, who was detained one year ago inside Turkey close to the Syrian border, is jailed in the southeastern province of Gaziantep.
However, his trial, which got under way earlier this year, is being held in the neighboring province of Kilis with Prakash being cross-examined via video link.

In his testimony, Prakash said he said received training from ISIL in their de-facto capital of Raqqa in Syria before moving north to the town of Kobane to fight the Syrian Kurdish Peoples’ Proetction Units (YPG).

He was wounded in the fighting and then requested to be moved to another area where he did not have to fight.

"But I went to Raqqa and was told I had to fight. I was also made to speak in propaganda videos,” he said.

"I decided to escape after seeing the true face" of ISIL, he added.

"I very much regret joining the organisation," he said.

Prakash denied being the Australian "representative" of ISIL in Syria and asked to be released and deported to a Muslim country and not Australia. However the court ruled for the continuation of his arrest.

The trial was adjourned to an unspecified later date.

Australia last year had asked Turkey to extradite Prakash, who Canberra previously had reported as having been killed in a U.S. airstrike in northern Iraq.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called Prakash the senior Australian operative in ISIL. He was reportedly on a list of high-value ISIL recruiters targeted by the U.S. in drone attacks in Iraq.

Prakash told the court he had spent his early life in Cambodia in a Buddhist family but had decided to become a Muslim after watching ISIL videos.