Mel­bourne knife at­tack in­spired by IS, say po­lice

Mil­i­tant group takes credit but at­tacker ‘had no direct con­tact’

The Star Malaysia - - World -

MEL­BOURNE: A So­mali-born man who set fire to a truck laden with gas cylin­ders in the cen­tre of Mel­bourne and fa­tally stabbed one per­son was in­spired by Islamic State but did not have direct links with the group, Aus­tralian po­lice said.

Po­lice iden­ti­fied the man re­spon­si­ble for Fri­day’s at­tack as 30-year-old Has­san Khalif Shire Ali 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 in­tel­li­gence re­port said he planned to travel to Syria, but an as­sess­ment said that while he had rad­i­cal views, he posed no threat to na­tional se­cu­rity.

Islamic State had claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack, which came two days be­fore Re­mem­brance Day, mark­ing 100 years since the end of the First World War, with­out pro­vid­ing any ev­i­dence.

“I think it is fair to say he 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 ter­ror­ism 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.

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-yearold man who worked in the city, but 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 yes­ter­day.

“This shouldn’t hap­pen in a city like Mel­bourne,” one wit­ness who had re­turned to the scene said, cry­ing.

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