STOP KIDDING YOURSELF
Extreme Islam biggest threat to our freedom, says PM
RADICAL Islam is “the greatest threat” to the Australian way of life, Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned yesterday. In an extraordinary tirade against religious extremism following the Melbourne terror attack that left cafe pioneer Sisto Malaspina dead, Mr Morrison said: “extremist Islam … opposes our very way of life. We would be kidding ourselves if we did not call out the fact.”
THE terrorist who carried out Melbourne’s deadly Bourke St terror attack had split from his wife and become distant from his family in the lead-up to the incident.
Somali-born Hassan Khalif Shire Ali also had drug and alcohol problems, and is understood to have visited Somalia before his passport was cancelled in 2015, it can be revealed.
Investigators are investigating what motivated the attack and whether Shire Ali had contacted other people beforehand.
Prison officers searched the jail cell of a person known to Shire Ali at dawn yesterday. No evidence was found but the inmate was moved into protection in case he became a target for other prisoners.
A suppression order granted in an out-of-sessions Supreme Court hearing yesterday prevents publication of some details of Shire Ali’s past.
Neighbours have spoken of how mayhem descended on their street as officers carried out a pre-dawn raid on a bungalow where the terrorist lived.
Police stormed the property in Meadow Heights, in Melbourne’s north, at about 3am, with officers shouting: “Come out, come out.”
One neighbour said Shire Ali had been living there for about a year, but had mostly kept to himself. He was seen with a woman and young boy, with whom he occasionally went for walks at night.
Neighbours said they thought Shire Ali may have been a tradesman after spotting him with tools and a wheelbarrow in the back of a ute. It is believed to have been the same vehicle used in the Bourke St attack.
Officers also raided a property believed to be the home of Shire Ali’s father. Masked officers stood guard outside the Werribee home, in Melbourne’s southwest, as forensic police took photos and looked for evidence.
Police also confirmed they had spoken to the terrorist’s wife.
“There were conversations there,” Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said yesterday. When asked if she had been co-operative, Mr Ashton said he could not comment because it was an “ongoing investigation”.
Police believe more people would have died if lethal force had not been used. “If they didn’t finish him off, he would have killed others,” an officer said. One officer explained why the shot was not taken earlier. He said: “If he shoots and misses and there’s 20 people behind, anything could happen. The bullet’s got to stop somewhere.”
Police believe the way in which
Shire Ali packed gas cylinders into his ute showed his aim was to cause mass casualties. In the end, his failure to build a more sophisticated bomb meant that aspect of his attack failed.
AFP national manager of counter terrorism, acting Deputy Commissioner Ian McCartney, said Shire Ali was radicalised and had his passport cancelled in 2015 when he tried to leave the country for Syria. But he was not being actively monitored.
He said the attack was linked to Islamic State, but he did not believe Shire Ali had actually been in contact with them.
“It’s fair to say he was inspired and he was radicalised,” Mr McCartney said, adding that Shire Ali drew inspiration from the rise of the caliphate and propaganda online.
A key part of the investigation would be when, why and how long he had been radicalised and planning such an attack.
“In relation to the investigation, we believe the threat has been mitigated,” Mr McCartney said. “This individual did hold radical views and his passport was cancelled in 2015 when ASIO assessed he planned to travel to Syria.
“In terms of the assessment on this individual, he was never a target in terms of investigations we undertake.
“In the last couple of years — as evidenced by the many joint investiga- tions that are being conducted — we have a proven track record in relation to investigations we undertake and have an extremely close and productive working relationship with Victoria Police.”
Shire Ali had prior convictions but not for violent offences. His rap sheet included burglary, receiving stolen goods, possession and use of cannabis, speeding 147kmh in a 100kmh zone, and driving an unregistered vehicle.
He was sentenced in 2012 to a 12month community order for the burglary and obtaining stolen goods charges, and was required to do 250 hours of unpaid community work and undergo regular drug testing.
Police talkk to a woman at Shire Ali’s house in Meadow Heights yesterday. Picture: Jay Town Mourners were visibly distressed istressed at Bourke St after the attack. Picture: Alex Coppel
Terrorist Hassan Khalif Shire Ali before being shot dead by police inBourke St on Friday. Picture: Chris Macheras
Mourners lay flowers at Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar. Picture: AlexCoppel