Terror Australis: man ‘inspired by IS’ goes on Sydney stabbing attack as nation seeks powers to track jihadists as young as 14
Australia has announced plans to monitor terror suspects as young as 14 after a man “inspired by” the Islamic State group was arrested for attempted murder in the country’s fourth terrorism incident in two years.
The proposed legislation would enable courts to impose post-sentence detention for high-risk terrorist offenders, Attorney General George Brandis said. The government also believed the scope of control orders, which can require suspects to submit to a curfew and restrict their contacts with others, needed to be widened, he said.
“Sadly, we have seen terrorism events perpetrated in Australia by people as young as 14 years old,” Brandis said. “We will be extending the lower-age threshold of control orders to 14 and making other important reforms.” Canberra is set to table the two new counter-terrorism bills in parliament this week.
In the latest incident, a 22-year-old man named as Ihsas Khan and whom police described as the “new face of terrorism” was charged with committing an act of terror and attempted murder after he attacked 59-year-old Wayne Greenhalg in the Sydney suburb of Minto Saturday.
The alleged stabbing by Khan came two days after a teenage boy was charged with making threats at the Sydney Opera House, and both incidents followed an IS call to target high-profile Australian sites.
Brandis said investigators established the alleged IS link with Khan after seizing material related to the militant group, without giving further details.
The stabbing left the victim, who police believe did not know his attacker, with serious wounds to his hands and body. He remains in hospital in a serious condition.
New South Wales Deputy Police Commissioner Catherine Burn said that when police were called to a hairdressing salon in Minto where the victim was, the young man allegedly tried to stab officers through a window.
“There was clearly some planning and preparation... we will allege down the track that he was going to attack (police) also,” Burn said.
Brandis said that the victim could have died if locals had not rushed to helped him after he was stabbed, saying they “acted heroically”.
The case is due to be heard again in a Sydney court Wednesday.
An attempt was also made to stab a police officer during efforts to make an arrest in nearby Macquarie Fields, police said. A counter-terrorism team is investigating the incident alongside local police officers, and a large knife had been seized for forensic examination.
Terrorist attacks by individuals are becoming increasingly prevalent, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said.
“The nature of terrorism is changing, it’s evolving and we have to change our response too,” he said. “It’s critical that we continue to respond in as agile a fashion as our enemies seek to attack us.”
Australia’s terrorism threat level hasn’t been changed following the Sydney stabbing, Turnbull said. It remains set at probable, the third-highest setting on a five point scale, he said.
Australian authorities have disrupted about 10 planned terror attacks in Australia in the past two years.
A gunman who unfurled an Islamic State flag in a Sydney hostage incident in 2014, died along with two hostages as police ended the 16-hour siege. The hostage taker, Man Haron Monis was linked to murder of his ex-wife and sex abuse cases.
Bloomberg, Agence France-Presse, Associated Press