August 25, 2019

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10-Nov-18: In Melbourne, the stabber is called "lone wolf" but with connections to Islamic State

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Image Source: Video capture

I am traveling [this is Arnold Roth] and am spending a few days in Melbourne, Australia. 

Here’s a summary of the terrorist attack that turned the downtown area here into a murder scene during this past Friday afternoon’s peak hour.
  • A man drove his utility vehicle – a Holden Rodeo – onto the sidewalk of the central business district’s Bourke Street, near the busy corner with Swanston Street where around 4:20 pm Friday it exploded in flames. It later emerged that he had loaded it up with gas cylinders. A large explosion was evidently his plan.
  • A man, Hassan Khalif Shire Ali, aged about 30, exited the vehicle armed with a large knife. He attacked several pedestrians in an evidently random way, stabbing 74-year-old Sisto Malaspina
  • Malaspina is the well-known co-owner of Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar, a Melbourne icon. 
  • Two other men were next: Rodney Patterson, 58, suffered head injuries; a male security guard aged 24 is injured in the neck, evidently from being stabbed. Both of them are in stable condition as of Saturday night as we write this.
  • Transit police arrived at the scene. The attacker punched one of them through the window of their vehicle.Many more police quickly arrived as the two transit police engaged with the attacker. The knifer then lunged at them with his weapon. A bystander tried to assist police by ramming a shopping trolley between them and the suspect.
  • At about this point, a police officer fired at the attacker. He was hit in the chest and fell to the ground. He was rushed to hospital in critical condition and later died.
  • In the words of The Age, a Melbourne daily, “Police have said it was a lone-person terror attack, and that the threat has been mitigated.”
  • All streets in the vicinity remained closed to traffic and pedestrians until 8 on Saturday morning as police examined the attack scene.
  • The knifer, a child migrant who arrived in Australia with his parents from Somalia and now dead, is widely described tonight as “known to counter terrorism agenciesand 
    known to have radical views
    … 

    His passport was seized in 2015  when he made plans to travel to Syria“. Though he “had links” to ISIS, he was “not actively monitored“. 

  • Australia’s national broadcaster, ABC, reported that “his family is well known and respected within the Somali community in Melbourne.”
  • They attended the Virgin Mary Mosque in Hoppers Crossing, west of Melbourne.
  • His wife, parents and siblings have been questioned by police in the past day and his home raided and combed for evidence.
  • The Age again: “The police have been given the green light for the first time to use preventative detention, where they may detain terror suspects for four days without a court order.”
Lots of questions to be answered here.

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