Australia confirmed on Thursday that an Australian citizen believed to be a top recruiter for ISIS was killed in a U.S. air strike in Iraq last month.
Attorney-General George Brandis said Washington had advised him that Australian Neil Prakash, who was linked to several Australia-based attack plans and calls for lone-wolf attacks against the U.S., was killed in an air strike in Mosul on April 29.
Melbourne-born Prakash, also known as Abu Khaled al-Cambodi, had appeared in ISIS videos and magazines and had actively recruited Australians, and encouraged acts of terrorism, Brandis said.
His death disrupted the militant group’s ability to lure fighters.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told Sky News that Prakash’s death “is a very, very positive development in the war” against ISIS and terror.
Australia last year announced financial sanctions against the 24-year-old Australian citizen of Cambodian and Fijian heritage, including threatening anyone giving financial assistance to him, with punishment of up to 10 years in jail.
Prakash, a former rapper who is believed to have relocated to Syria in 2014, joined two other Australian ISIS fighters on a U.N. sanctions list, Mohamed Elomar and Khaled Sharrouf, who appeared in images last year holding the severed heads of Syrian soldiers.
Australia also formally declared ISIS a terrorist organisation, meaning that dual citizens could have their Australian citizenship revoked if found to be a member of the group.
Declaring ISIS a terrorist group, the first to be designated such under Australia’s new Allegiance to Australia Act, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said it was “both engaging in acts of terrorism and is opposed to Australia and its interests”.
Brandis said he had also been advised by the U.S. government that a second Australian citizen involved in the terror group, Shadi Jabar Khalil Mohammad, was killed on April 22 in a U.S. air strike near Al Bab in Syria.
Mohammad and her Sudanese husband, Abu Sa’ad al-Sudani, were active recruiters of foreign fighters on behalf of ISIS and had been inspiring attacks against Western interests, Brandis said.
Mohammad was also the sister of Farhad Mohammad, the 15-year-old schoolboy who gunned down police accountant Curtis Cheng at a police headquarters in a Sydney suburb in October last year.
Farhad Mohammad was shot dead in a gunfight with police outside the building.
Authorities estimate 110 Australians are fighting for the Islamic State group in the Middle East.