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Australia strips citizenship of alleged ISIL recruiter | Australia News

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The Australian government has stripped the citizenship of a man it believes is a top recruiter for the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) group.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said on Saturday that Melbourne-born Neil Prakash was “a very dangerous individual”, who had acted “inconsistently” with his allegiance to Australia.

“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,” Dutton said in a televised news conference.

Prakash, who Dutton said had been central to ISIL’s efforts in the Middle East, has been held in Turkey where he is charged with terrorism-related activities since being caught there in October 2016.

The 27-year-old is wanted in Australia over an alleged plot to behead a police officer. 

Prakash, whose mother was Cambodian and father a Fijian, held both Australian and Fijian citizenship through his father.






Trump says Erdogan will ‘eradicate’ ISIL in Syria (2:51)

Under Australia’s citizenship laws, a dual national can lose his Australian citizenship if he acts contrary to his allegiance to the country by choosing to be involved in “terrorism”.

ISIL, also known as ISIS, was declared a “terrorist organisation” in May 2016 for this purpose, the Home Affairs Office said in a statement, and Prakash is the 12th person to be stripped of citizenship so far.

‘Real threat’

Dutton said the law prevents the government from rendering somebody stateless so they must have Australian citizenship and citizenship of another country.

A former rapper, Prakash has previously admitted being a member of ISIL but said he had nothing to do with the group in Australia.

Dutton said Australia’s internal spy agency, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), had thwarted 14 attempted attacks, including a plan to smuggle explosives onto an A380 flight to the Middle East.

“The threat is very real,” he said. “The priority for us is to make sure that people like Neil Prakash don’t come back to Australia. We don’t want them here.”

He has been linked to several Australia-based attack plans and has appeared in ISIL videos and magazines. Australia says he actively recruited Australian men, women and children and encouraged violence.

Prakash has been notified of the decision by letter and Fiji‘s government has also been notified, a source close to the Australian government told Reuters news agency.

Australia has been pressing Turkey to extradite Prakash since he was first detained, but the request was rejected in July.

It will remain in place until the conclusion of his case and any custodial sentence, The Australian newspaper reported.

Canberra cancelled Prakash’s passport in 2014 and announced financial sanctions in 2015, which cover anyone giving him financial assistance, with a punishment of up to 10 years in jail.






Has ISIL really been defeated in Syria? (25:20)

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Ottawa families give mixed reviews for online schooling

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So, how’s it going with online school? Families reached by CBC Ottawa seem to have mixed reviews. 

Masuma Khan is a mother of two. Her seven-year-old, Hana Wyndham in Grade 2, is attending French immersion virtual school. Masuma is grateful it’s an option, but can’t help notice a lot of down time.

“There’s a lot of, ‘are you on mute?’ In terms of the amount of learning that’s actually happening, it does seem to be not that high,” said Masuma.

Parents who kept their children at home this fall are in the minority, but they still form a significant chunk of families in Ottawa.

In the city’s largest school board, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), about 27 per cent of elementary students and 22 per cent of high school students chose online learning. The Ottawa Catholic School Board says roughly a quarter of its students are online.

For Masuma, the decision to keep her daughter home was complex: extended family members are immunocompromised and she worried the in-person learning environment would be unpleasant because of precautions. She also felt her daughter might benefit from being supported at home.

“She doesn’t necessarily enjoy school. I also found out during the pandemic that she was being bullied [last year],” said Masuma. “So I thought, why not try from home?”

To help her daughter socialize face-to-face with other kids, Masuma enrolled Hana in Baxter Forest School, an alternative education program where kids spend most of their time outside, one day a week. Hana also attends virtual Arabic classes two days a week after school. 

Masuma’s husband and Hana share the living room work space, and Masuma admits he does the lion’s share of helping their daughter stay on task. There is a possibility that he’ll be required to return to his office in the new year.

“When he goes back to work … it’s probably going to be a little bit more difficult.”

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No school closures after Christmas holiday break, says Ontario education minister

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Ontario elementary and secondary schools will not close for an extended winter break, says Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

Closures aren’t needed given Ontario’s “strong safety protocols, low levels of (COVID-19) transmission and safety within our schools,” Lecce announced Wednesday afternoon. He said he had consulted with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams and the province’s public health measures advisory table.

That ended speculation about school buildings remaining closed in January for a period of time after the Christmas break.

Earlier in the week, Lecce told reporters the government was considering having students spend “some period out of class” in January, perhaps switching to online learning.

In a statement, Lecce said that even though rates of community transmission of COVID-19 are increasing, “schools have been remarkably successful at minimizing outbreaks to ensure that our kids stay safe and learning in their classrooms.”

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Windy start to the week in Ottawa

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OTTAWA — It’s a blustery Monday in the capital with wind gusts of up to 50 km/hour expected throughout the day.

Environment Canada is forecasting a high of 4 C with a 60 per cent chance of showers or flurries before the wind dies down later this evening.

There’s a chance of flurries on Tuesday as well with a high of -1 C. The overnight low will dip to an unseasonal -9 C.  

Wednesday’s high will be just -5 C with lots of sunshine.

Seasonal temperatures return for the rest of the week..

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