Sep 24, 2014 4:31 AM GMT+0200
An 18-year-old man shot dead by Australian police after stabbing two officers was a terrorism suspect under investigation for waving an Islamic State flag in a shopping center.
The teenager attacked two counter-terrorism officers yesterday evening outside a Melbourne police station, where he was due to be interviewed about his behavior, Australian Federal Police Acting Commissioner Andrew Colvin told reporters today. The man’s passport had recently been canceled on security grounds, Colvin said.
Australia raised its terrorism alert to the highest level in a decade this month, citing the threat posed by supporters of Islamic State extremists. Last week, authorities said police foiled an alleged beheading plot by the group after carrying out the nation’s largest ever anti-terrorism raid.
The incident last night “indicates there are people in our community who are capable of very extreme acts,” Prime Minister Tony Abbott said en route to New York, where he is attending a United Nations Security Council meeting on how to tackle the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Abbott says 60 Australian citizens are fighting with the extremist group and 20 fighters have returned from conflict zones abroad. The government plans legislation to curb people traveling overseas to areas where the militant group is active and has been canceling passports.
The teenager shot last night came under police suspicion three months ago and officers grew concerned last week due to his behavior, Ken Lay, the chief commissioner of Victoria state police, told reporters. The man agreed to come to a police station to discuss his actions and stabbed the officers in an unprovoked attack, he said. The officers are in a stable condition in hospital.
The Australian Broadcasting Corp. and Herald Sun newspaper said the man was under surveillance after making threats against Abbott. Colvin told reporters today the teenager hadn’t made any specific threats.
The Islamic Council of Victoria said the incident highlighted the need for the government to “deal with the root causes of alienation and disaffection of people such as this.”
“Our focus, at this time, is on supporting the family of the young man,” the council said in a statement.
Australia is deploying 400 air force personnel and 200 special forces soldiers to a U.S. military base in the United Arab Emirates, along with fighter jets. The U.S. and Middle East allies have pounded Islamic State positions in Syria in a barrage of air strikes, a major expansion of President Barack Obama’s effort to destroy the Sunni extremist group.
In raising Australia’s terrorism alert to the second-highest level, authorities said they suspect an attack is likely. There will be increased security screenings at airports, ports, government buildings and public gatherings such as major sporting events. The government last month committed an additional A$630 million ($565 million) over four years to counter-terrorism measures.
Intelligence agencies detected chatter this month that federal parliament in Canberra could be targeted, Abbott said Sept. 19.
- No specific threats against PM: AFP (news.smh.com.au)
- Australia police kill “terror suspect” after two officers stabbed (trust.org)
- Australian police shoot dead ‘known terror suspect’ (manilatimes.net)
- Police name man shot dead in Melbourne by anti-terrorist officers (abc.net.au)