Mel­bourne knife at­tacker named as known ex­trem­ist

Oman Daily Observer - - ASIA -

MEL­BOURNE: A So­mali-born Aus­tralian who car­ried out a deadly knife ram­page in Mel­bourne held ex­trem­ist views and was known to in­tel­li­gence ser­vices, au­thor­i­ties said on Satur­day, as they car­ried out raids and in­ter­viewed dozens of wit­nesses.

Aus­tralian Fed­eral Po­lice said 30-year-old Has­san Khalif Shire Ali — who was shot dead af­ter driv­ing a 4x4 laden with gas cylin­ders into the city cen­tre and stab­bing three peo­ple — fled to Aus­tralia as a child with his fam­ily in the 1980s.

He stabbed three peo­ple be­fore be­ing con­fronted by mem­bers of the pub­lic and armed of­fi­cers who even­tu­ally shot him in the chest. One of his vic­tims died at the scene while two oth­ers were wounded.

Au­thor­i­ties have ques­tioned around 35 peo­ple who saw the rush hour at­tack, which al­though crude, was said to have been de­signed to “cause ter­ror and cause max­i­mum ca­su­al­ties” in the heart Aus­tralia’s bustling sec­ond city.

Armed of­fi­cers raided two ad­dresses in the west and north­east of the city, linked to the per­pe­tra­tor’s fam­ily and as­so­ciates, al­though there is not thought to be an on­go­ing threat.

The man killed by Shire Ali was named by lo­cal me­dia as 74-yearold Sisto Malaspina, an icon of Mel­bourne’s thriving culinary cul­ture who ran a fa­mous Ital­ian cafe.

Two other men wounded in the at­tack are still be­ing treated but are ex­pected to make a re­cov­ery.

Aus­tralian au­thor­i­ties now face dif­fi­cult ques­tions about how Shire Ali, who was known to the Aus­tralian Se­cu­rity In­tel­li­gence Or­gan­i­sa­tion for at least three years, was able to carry out an at­tack.

He had his Aus­tralian pass­port re­voked in 2015 amid fears he was try­ing to travel to Syria to join the IS group.

His brother will go on trial next year on sep­a­rate ter­ror-re­lated charges — ac­cused of try­ing to ac­quire a firearm and kill peo­ple in a New Years’ Eve crowd.

“The as­sess­ment was made that whilst he had rad­i­calised views he didn’t pose a threat to the na­tional se­cu­rity en­vi­ron­ment,” Ian Mccart­ney, a fed­eral po­lice coun­tert­er­ror­ism official said of Shire Ali.

Mccart­ney de­scribed the at­tack as a “wake up call” even as the IS loses ter­ri­tory in Iraq and Syria, where Aus­tralian forces are part of a coali­tion fight­ing the group.

— AFP

A man pays his re­spects at a me­mo­rial for Sisto Malaspina out­side Pel­le­grini’s Espresso Bar in Mel­bourne on Satur­day.

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