7 teens arrested in counter-terrorism raids after Sydney church stabbing

7 teens arrested in counter-terrorism raids after Sydney church stabbing

SYDNEY: Seven juveniles were arrested across Sydney in a joint counter-terrorism operation on Wednesday, after the stabbing of a religious leader in a Wakeley church last week.

“Seven people, all juveniles, have been arrested and a further five are assisting police with our inquiries,“ Australian Federal Police (AFP) Deputy Commissioner Krissy Barrett confirmed at a press conference, according to Xinhua.

“As part of our JCTT (Joint Counter Terrorism Team) investigation into the alleged Wakeley stabbing, we identified links between the alleged offender and the network of associates and peers who we believe shared a similar violent extremist ideology,“ she noted.

The operation commenced at around 11.15 am local time, involving more than 400 officers of AFP and New South Wales Police Force (NSWPF). A total of 13 search warrants have been executed across southwestern Sydney.

David Hudson, deputy commissioner of NSWPF, said that following the seizure of a 16-year-old offender, several associates were identified that “warranted further close attention and investigation”.

“We will allege that these individuals adhere to a religiously motivated violent extremist ideology. These investigations have been progressing since the incident. The investigations included comprehensive surveillance activities and intensive scrutiny of those individuals,“ said Hudson.

According to his briefing, meetings were held on Tuesday among partner agencies and they determined to “escalate” their activities.

“It was considered that the group, subject of our attention, posed an unacceptable risk and threat to the people of New South Wales and our current purely investigative strategies could not adequately ensure public safety,“ Hudson added.

He also told reporters that the arrested teenagers are “all obviously from very similar areas in the community”.

“They are all known to each other, some loosely, some quite closely, but all are linked to the common purpose we believe at this stage,“ said the deputy commissioner.

On April 15, police were called to a Wakeley church in Sydney at about 7.10 pm local time, following reports of a stabbing, where a 53-year-old religious leader was found with significant injuries to his head.

A 16-year-old was arrested at the scene and later charged with committing a terrorist act, an offence which could carry a maximum penalty of imprisonment for life.


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