Just days after an Islamic State spokesman urged followers of the militant group to kill “disbelievers” in other countries, an Australian police officer fatally shot a terror suspect believed to be trying to do just that.
Time magazine reports 18-year-old Abdul Numan Haider approached officers Tuesday at a Melbourne-area police station and said he wanted to provide assistance with an ongoing investigation.
When a state officer reached out to shake the teen’s hand, Haider allegedly drew a knife and stabbed the man. He then turned his knife on a federal police officer, stabbing him three or four times in the body and head, before the state officer shot and killed him.
The Independent reports Haider had also made threats against Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. He was reportedly named as a “person of interest” for his suspected connection with terrorist groups operating in Australia.
Both officers were rushed to a nearby hospital and were last reported in stable condition.
Many fear the attack was motivated by a Sept. 21 audio recording in which a man claiming to speak for the militant Islamic State, sometimes referred to as ISIS or ISIL, urged followers to attack civilians in countries that opposed them. The recording was widely posted to social media websites. Authorities, according to News.com.au, believe the voice in the recording is that of Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani.
“If you can kill a disbelieving American or European — especially the spiteful and filthy French — or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State … kill him in any manner or way however it may be,” al-Adnani is heard saying in the recording.
Abbott said the attack was proof that Australians are in danger. He commended the officers during a brief stopover on a flight to the United States where he is scheduled to attend an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council regarding the Islamic State.
“Obviously this indicates that there are people in our community who are capable of very extreme acts,” Abbott said. “It also indicates that the police will be constantly vigilant to protect us against people who will do Australians harm.”
Haider was reportedly one of about 40 or 60 people who recently had their passports cancelled over concerns they would travel to Iraq or Syria to join the Islamic State in the fighting there.
Professor Greg Barton of Monash University’s Global Terrorism Research Centre in Melbourne said Australians should be careful in assuming that Haider was responding to the the al-Adnani recording. Rather, he said, Haider could have just as easily been angered over having his passport cancelled. Barton recommended that authorities do a better job with outreach to potentially dangerous individuals.
“We have to do more work on community engagement on those who had their passports taken,” he said. “These are troubled young men who are highly frustrated and the fact is they can cause a lot of trouble by running someone over with a car or attacking them with knife. Last night’s incident is a reminder of that, and the fact that, if left unattended, these people will become ticking time bombs.”
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