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

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