Australian police charge five teenagers over Sydney bishop’s stabbing

Charges include conspiracy to prepare for a terrorist act, possessing violent extremist material and carrying a knife in public

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Thursday 25 April 2024 05:40 BST
Related: Sydney bishop forgives church attacker

Police in Australia have charged five teenagers with terrorism in the stabbing of an Assyrian Christian bishop in Sydney.

The five boys, aged between 14 and 17, were the alleged associates of a 16-year-old boy accused of stabbing bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel of Christ The Good Shepherd Church on 15 April.

The juveniles were arrested from across Sydney in an operation by the joint counterterrorism team on Wednesday and were brought to the children's court on Thursday, New South Wales police said.

They were charged with possessing violent extremist material, conspiring to prepare for a terrorist act and carrying a knife in public.

Two boys aged 16 and 17 have been charged with conspiring to engage in a terrorist act, the police said, adding that the eldest boy was also charged with carrying a knife in public.

Two other minors arrested on Wednesday have not yet been charged, as police continue their investigation into what they have described as a terror incident.

Police commissioner David Hudson claimed that the boys arrested in relation to the stabbing "adhered to a religiously motivated, violent extremist ideology".

More than 400 police officers executed 13 search warrants at properties across southwest Sydney and one in Goulburn, about 200km south of the city, to arrest the boys.

The 16-year-old accused of stabbing the bishop and a priest was charged last Friday with committing a terrorist act and faces life in jail if convicted.

He had travelled for 90 minutes from his home to reach the Assyrian church, the police said. The two clerics survived the attack.

The bishop, in his first comments since the attack, said he had forgiven the attacker and asked his supporters to be “Christlike” and refrain from any violence.

A large riot broke out the day after the attack on the bishop.

In an audio message released by the church on Thursday, the Christian leader urged his followers to obey the law.

“There is no need to be worried or concerned. And a piece of advice to all our beloved faithful – I need you to act Christlike,” he said.

"The lord Jesus never taught us to fight, the lord Jesus never taught us to retaliate, the lord Jesus never said to us ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’.”

He continued: “I forgive whoever has done this act. I say to him, you’re my son, I love you, and I will always pray for you. And whoever sent you to do this, I forgive them as well.”

Last week, a 40-year-old man with a history of mental illness and no apparent motive was shot dead by police inside a shopping mall after he stabbed six people to death and wounded a dozen others.

Police said there was no threat to Thursday's events for Anzac Day, when thousands gather for dawn services and street marches around Australia to commemorate the nation's war dead.

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