Neil Prakash: The confused Buddhist who became a top IS jihadist

Sometime in the middle of 2012, a friend of Neil Prakash asked the young Australian if he was religious.

“I’m a Buddhist,” said Prakash, “but I believe there is a god, a deity”.

“You are not a Buddhist then,” replied the friend, “you are confused”.

The simple exchange marked the beginning of a journey, literal and spiritual, that took Prakash from his home town of Melbourne to the heartland of the so-called Islamic State.

Neil Prakash, Buddhist and sometime wannabe rapper, became Abu Khaled al-Cambodi, dedicated jihadist and top IS recruiter.

Now, in the latest twist in that journey, Prakash is reportedly in custody – and back from the dead. In May 2015, US officials announced that he had been killed in an air strike in the Iraqi city of Mosul, but according to a report in the New York Times he was arrested recently in an unidentified Middle Eastern country.