SYDNEY – The perpetrator of a knife attack in central Melbourne, in which one person died and two were wounded, had links with Islamic extremists, Australian Federal Police said Saturday.
Hassan Khalif Shire Ali, also known as Hassan Ali and Hassan Khalif, set alight a vehicle on Bourke Street in Melbourne’s Central Business District before attacking passers-by and police officers with a knife before being shot in the chest.
The 30-year old man of Somali origin, who died soon after in hospital, “held radicalised views” and had had his passport suspended in 2015 for trying to travel to Syria, Federal Police acting deputy commissioner Ian McCartney said at a press conference in Melbourne.
Shire Ali migrated to Australia along with his family in the 1980s. His brother, Ali Khalif Shire Ali, faces a trial in Melbourne for allegedly planning a terror attack during the last New Year celebrations in the city.
The police, in coordination with anti-terror units, also conducted searches of two houses in western Melbourne as a part of the investigations related to Friday’s attack.
The Islamic State terror outfit claimed the attack on Friday through their Amaq agency, saying the perpetrator was one of their fighters.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison addressed reporters in Sydney on Saturday to”call out” the dangers posed by radical Islamic extremism.
“I have got to address the real issue here. I’ve got call it out – radical, violent, extremist Islam, that opposes our very way of life. I am the first to protect religious freedoms in this country, but it also means that I must be the first to call out religious extremism,” Morrison said.
“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 prime minister added.
Authorities raised the terror alert level in Australia in September 2014, and have since then approved a series of anti-terror laws to prevent attacks.
Australia has suffered four incidents of terror-related violence since then, and security forces have prevented more than a dozen terror attacks while detaining more than 70 people in connection with them.