Mel­bourne po­lice see isis in­Flu­ence be­hind stab­bings

Prime Min­is­ter Mor­ri­son said na­tional ter­ror­ism ad­vi­sory re­mained at ‘prob­a­ble’, THE MID­POINT OF A fiVE-TIER SYS­TEM, ADDING THAT RAD­I­CAL IS­LAM WAS THE IS­SUE.

The Sunday Guardian - - World - REUTERS

An Aus­tralian man who set fire to a truck laden with gas cylin­ders in the cen­tre of Mel­bourne and stabbed one per­son to death was in­spired by Is­lamic State but did not have di­rect links with the group, po­lice said on Satur­day.

Po­lice iden­ti­fied the man re­spon­si­ble for Fri­day’s at­tack as So­mali-born Has­san Khalif Shire Ali, 30, and said he was rad­i­calised and in­spired by the mil­i­tant group’s pro­pa­ganda. He was shot by po­lice and died in hos­pi­tal. Po­lice said Shire Ali’s Aus­tralian pass­port was can­celled in 2015 af­ter an in- tel­li­gence re­port he planned to travel to Syria, but an as­sess­ment was made that while he had rad­i­cal views, he posed no threat to na­tional se­cu­rity. Is­lamic State claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack, which came two days be­fore Re­mem­brance Day, mark­ing 100 years since the end of World War One, with­out pro­vid­ing any ev­i­dence.

“I think it is fair to say he (Shire Ali) was in­spired. He was rad­i­calised,” Aus­tralian Fed­eral Po­lice Act­ing Deputy Com­mis­sioner Ian McCart­ney told re­porters in Mel­bourne.

“We’re not say­ing there was di­rect con­tact. We’re say­ing it was more from an in­spi­ra­tion per­spec­tive.”

Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son said the na­tional ter- ror­ism ad­vi­sory re­mained at “prob­a­ble”, the mid­point of a five- tier sys­tem, and told re­porters in Syd­ney that rad­i­cal Is­lam was the is­sue. “I need 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 that also means I must be the first to call out re­li­gious ex­trem­ism,” he said.

Fri­day’s at­tack be­gan just be­fore the evening rush hour and lasted only min­utes. Shire Ali stabbed by­standers and at­tacked po­lice while his util­ity truck car­ry­ing bar­be­cue gas cylin­ders burned on busy Bourke Street. (tm­snrt. rs/2Qu5stX)

The cylin­ders did not ex­plode and the fire was put out in 10 min­utes, by which point the at­tack was over, though not be­fore one man was fa­tally stabbed. Po­lice said he was a 74-year-old man who worked in the city, and did not re­lease his name. The man’s busi­ness part­ner iden­ti­fied him as Sisto Malaspina, co-owner of Pellegrini’s cafe, a Mel­bourne in­sti­tu­tion cred­ited with forg­ing the city’s fa­mous cof­fee cul­ture.

“Many, many tears have been shed,” the cafe’s co-owner. Nino Pan­grazio, told The Age news­pa­per, and cus­tomers laid flow­ers and writ­ten trib­utes out­side the cafe on Satur­day.

“This shouldn’t hap­pen in a city like Mel­bourne,” one wit­ness who had re­turned to the scene on Satur­day told Reuters, cry­ing. “I just want to for­get it,” she said.

Video posted to Twit­ter and broad­cast on tele­vi­sion showed Shire Ali swing­ing a knife at two po­lice of­fi­cers, while the truck burned in the back­ground, be­fore he col­lapsed when one shot him in the chest.

Vic­to­ria state po­lice said counter-ter­ror­ism in­ves­ti­ga­tors were search­ing two prop­er­ties in sub­ur­ban Mel­bourne in con­nec­tion with the at­tack, but there was no im­me­di­ate word on what the searches yielded.

At one, a mod­est one-storey brick house on the city’s west­ern fringe, armed of­fi­cers wear­ing masks stood guard out­side. Bourke Street also re­opened on Satur­day and a Reuters re­porter said there was an in­creased po- lice pres­ence in the area. A staunch U.S. ally, Aus­tralia has been on alert for such vi­o­lence af­ter a Syd­ney cafe siege in 2014, and its in­tel­li­gence agen­cies have stepped up scrutiny. Vic­to­ria Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Gra­ham Ash­ton said there was no warn­ing of the lat­est at­tack.

He said there was no longer a threat to the pub­lic, but that se­cu­rity would be boosted at horse races and Re­mem­brance Day memo­ri­als over the week­end. Au­thor­i­ties say Aus­tralia’s vig­i­lance has helped foil at least a dozen plots, in­clud­ing a plan to at­tack Mel­bourne at Christ­mas in 2016 and a plan to blow up a flight from Syd­ney to Abu Dhabi us­ing a bomb dis­guised as a meat min­cer. Turkey has given record­ings re­lated to the killing of Ja­mal Khashoggi to Ger­many, France and Bri­tain, Pres­i­dent Tayyip Er­do­gan said on Satur­day, seek­ing to main­tain in­ter­na­tional pres­sure on Riyadh over the Saudi jour­nal­ist’s death.

Khashoggi, a critic of de facto Saudi ruler Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man, was killed in Saudi Ara­bia’s Is­tan­bul con­sulate last month in a hit which Er­do­gan says was or­dered at the “high­est lev­els” of the Saudi gov­ern­ment.

His killing pro­voked global out­rage but lit­tle con­crete ac­tion by world pow­ers against Saudi Ara­bia, the world’s largest oil ex­porter and a sup­porter of Wash­ing­ton’s plans to con­tain Ira­nian in­flu­ence across the Mid­dle East.

Speak­ing as he left Turkey to at­tend World War One com­mem­o­ra­tions in France which are be­ing at­tended by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Eu­ro­pean lead­ers, Er­do­gan said for the first time that the three Eu­ro­pean Union states had heard the record­ings.

“We gave the tapes. We gave them to Saudi Ara­bia, to the United States, Ger­mans, French and British, all of them. They have lis­tened to all the con­ver­sa­tions in them. They know,” Er­do­gan said. CIA di­rec­tor Gina Haspel heard an au­dio record­ing of Khashoggi’s death when she vis­ited Is­tan­bul, two sources told Reuters last month. A se­nior Saudi en­voy was also played a record­ing, a source fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter said.

Er­do­gan did not give de­tails of the con­tents of the tapes on Satur­day but two sources with knowl­edge of the is­sue have told Reuters that Turkey has sev­eral au­dio record­ings.

They in­clude the killing it­self and con­ver­sa­tions pre-dat­ing the op­er­a­tion which Turkey sub­se­quently un­cov­ered, the sources said.

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