Thursday, 5 May 2016
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister update the House on the campaign to defeat violent extremists in Iraq and Syria? How is the government's strong and resolute approach to counter-terrorism helping to keep Australians safe and secure?
I thank the honourable member for her question. I can confirm that the government has been advised that Neil Prakash, an Australian citizen, was killed by a US airstrike in Mosul in Iraq on 29 April. Prakash has been considered the most senior Australian operative in Daesh. He actively encouraged acts of terrorism in the West. He has been linked to several Australia-based terrorist attack plans promoting random killings of innocent civilians.
Prakash used cyberspace to promote the evil ideology of Daesh and recruit Australian men, women and children—many of whom are either still in the conflict zone or dead. Prakash and others ruthlessly target and groom our children—vulnerable children—with hateful propaganda of terrorism which perverts the religion of Islam. We must be, and are, unflinching in our resolve, and we work with our allies to identify and target Australians and others who are seeking to do our people harm.
We have also been advised by the United States government that Shadi Jabar Khalil Mohammad was killed in an air strike near al-Bab, Syria, on 22 April, along with her Sudanese husband. She is the sister of Farhad Mohammad, who late last year shot dead the New South Wales police employee Curtis Cheng in Parramatta. Mohammad and her husband were both considered active recruiters of foreign fighters for Daesh, inspiring attacks against Western interests. This should serve as a reminder to any Australians who seek to go to or are in the conflict zone that they are targets and should expect to be killed as we continue our campaign to eliminate this terrorist group. Whether it is Brussels or Paris, Ankara or Istanbul, Beirut, Bamako, Sydney or Jakarta, the world is so interconnected. Australians and our interests are so widespread that nowhere is far from home. The fact that terrorist attacks in Australia were being planned by Daesh from Syria and Iraq underscores the importance of our military contribution against that organisation in Syria and Iraq, in which we have been the second-largest contributor to the coalition effort. We are working with our allies to eliminate the so-called caliphate by defeating it in the field and ensuring that the political solutions are there to sustain the peace that follows.
The first duty of every government is the safety and security of the Australian public. No government can guarantee the absolute absence of terrorism, but we must not let terror groups like Daesh change us. We will remain both secure and free. We will keep our borders secure. We will maintain the shared values of freedom and mutual respect for all cultures and all faiths that have made ours the most successful multicultural society in the world.