OUR WAY OF LIFE AT RISK

The Sunday Times - - BOURKE STREET BLOODSHED - AVA BENNY-MOR­RI­SON STEPHEN DRILL

PRIME Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son has sin­gled out Islamic ex­trem­ism as the great­est re­li­gious ex­trem­ist threat in Aus­tralia.

In an emo­tional speech fol­low­ing Mel­bourne’s Bourke St at­tack, Mr Mor­ri­son said: “I’ve got to call it out — rad­i­cal, vi­o­lent, ex­trem­ist Islam that op­poses our very way of life.

“I am the first to pro­tect re­li­gious free­dom in this coun­try, but it also means I must be the first to call out re­li­gious ex­trem­ism.

“Re­li­gious ex­trem­ism takes many forms around the world, and no re­li­gion is im­mune from it. But here in Aus­tralia we would be kid­ding our­selves if we did not call out the fact that the great­est threat of re­li­gious ex­trem­ism in this coun­try is the rad­i­cal and dan­ger­ous ide­ol­ogy of ex­trem­ist Islam.”

The strong com­ments were trig­gered by the lethal at­tack launched by ter­ror­ist Has­san Khalif Shire Ali on Fri­day, which killed cafe owner Sisto Malaspina and in­jured two oth­ers.

Po­lice be­lieve the way the 30-year-old packed gas cylin­ders into his Holden ute be­fore set­ting it alight showed he aimed to cause mass ca­su­al­ties. But his fail­ure to build a more so­phis­ti­cated bomb is be­lieved to have spared many lives.

Po­lice hope items, in­clud­ing com­put­ers and phones, seized dur­ing raids yes­ter­day will pro­vide an in­sight into what mo­ti­vated his ac­tions.

So­mali-born Shire Ali had split from his wife and be­come dis­tant from his fam­ily in the lead-up to the at­tack. He also had drug and al­co­hol prob­lems. He is un­der­stood to have vis­ited So­ma­lia be­fore his pass­port was can­celled in 2015.

Prison of­fi­cers searched the cell of a per­son known to Shire Ali at dawn.

Mr Mor­ri­son called on Islamic lead­ers to weed out the “evil thieves” who “prey on their com­mu­nity, on their vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple, on their chil­dren”.

“There is a spe­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity on re­li­gious lead­ers to pro­tect their re­li­gious com­mu­ni­ties and en­sure dan­ger­ous teach­ings and ide­olo­gies do not take root here,” he said.

“They must be proac­tive. They must be alert and they must call this out in their com­mu­ni­ties and more broadly for what it is.”

The PM’s com­ments prompted an an­gry re­sponse from WA’s La­bor MP Anne Aly who said Mr Mor­ri­son “does not know what he’s talk­ing about” and ac­cused him of “di­vid­ing the com­mu­nity” by sin­gling out re­li­gious groups.

“I don’t care how po­lit­i­cally des­per­ate you are, now is not the right time to use lan­guage that’s go­ing to di­vide the com­mu­nity,” the Cowan MP, a counter-ter­ror­ism ex­pert, said.

“To use it for po­lit­i­cal gain and to use it to di­vide the com­mu­nity and to use it to di­vide Aus­tralians . . . I would like to see our lead­ers bring Aus­tralians to­gether in a time of tragedy.”

Ms Aly said the threat to in­di­vid­ual safety per­pe­trated by ji­hadists “pales in com­par­i­son to the num­ber of women be­ing killed every week in do­mes­tic vi­o­lence”.

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 bound for Syria.

But he was not be­ing ac­tively mon­i­tored. Mr McCart­ney said the at­tack was linked to Islamic State, but he did not be­lieve Shire Ali, 30, had been in con­tact with the group.

Neigh­bours of Shire Ali have spo­ken of how may­hem de­scended on their quiet sub­ur­ban street as of­fi­cers car­ried out a pre-dawn raid on a bun­ga­low in which the ter­ror­ist had been liv­ing.

One neigh­bour said Shire Ali had been liv­ing in the house for a year, but mostly kept to him­self.

The hero po­lice­man who fired the shot that fa­tally in­jured the ter­ror­ist and brought the ter­ri­fy­ing at­tack to an end had only been work­ing as an of­fi­cer for a mat­ter of weeks.

His ac­tions and those of an­other ju­nior of­fi­cer who also con­fronted Shire Ali have been praised.

Po­lice of­fi­cers try to fight off as­sailant Has­san Khalif Shire Ali.

The of­fi­cer fires at point-blank range.

One of­fi­cer draws his gun.

Shire Ali clutches his chest and falls to the foot­path.

Sup­port: Sisto Malaspina’s col­league, Nino Pan­grazio, is hugged by a po­lice of­fi­cer who con­fronted Has­san Khalif Shire Ali.

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