Police in Australia arrest teens with ‘violent extremist ideology’ linked to stabbing of bishop

More than 400 police officers carried out raids in 13 locations

Shweta Sharma
Wednesday 24 April 2024 11:23 BST
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Australian police arrested seven teenagers following counter-terror raids across Sydney linked to a violent knife attack in an Assyrian Orthodox church last week.

Police said those arrested in the raids posed "unacceptable risk and threat" to the public and adhered to a “violent extremist ideology”. Five others are also being interrogated in this connection.

The teenagers, aged between 15 to 17, were allegedly part of a network linked to the 16-year-old accused in the 15 April stabbing of the bishop of the church.

More than 400 officers of the Joint Counter-Terrorism Team (JCT), which includes federal and state police as well as the nation’s main domestic spy agency, carried out raids in 13 locations across southwest Sydney.

New South Wales Police deputy commissioner David Hudson said the suspects were considered an immediate threat.

"We will allege that these individuals adhered to a religiously motivated, violent extremist ideology," Mr Hudson told reporters.

“It was considered that the group ... posed an unacceptable risk and threat to the people of New South Wales, and our current purely investigative strategies could not adequately ensure public safety,” he added.

He said it was "likely" the group investigated could be planning an attack but no specific target had been determined.

People stand outside a house across the road from the Christ the Good Shepherd church in suburban Wakely in western Sydney
People stand outside a house across the road from the Christ the Good Shepherd church in suburban Wakely in western Sydney (AP)

"Their behaviour, whilst under surveillance, led us to believe that, if they were to commit any act, we would not be able to prevent that," he said. "We believed, through the investigation, that it was likely that an attack might ensue."

Australian Federal Police deputy commissioner Krissy Barrett said the police operation was not linked to Anzac Day on Thursday, a public holiday when Australians remember their war dead.

"The JCTT has acted swiftly to disrupt these individuals, and the investigation remains ongoing."

A 16-year-old was charged on Friday with committing a terrorist act after a 50-year-old bishop suffered serious injuries and was taken to hospital. Three other people were injured in the attack and were treated for "non-life-threatening injuries” at the scene.

Police declared the stabbing at the Christ the Good Shepherd Church a "terrorist incident" and said the teen allegedly spoke in Arabic about the Prophet Mohammad being insulted.

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