Gunman Khayre had violent criminal past
PRIME MINISTER Malcolm Turnbull has described a Melbourne terror attack which left one innocent bystander dead and three police officers injured, as shocking and cowardly.
The prime minister said authorities would continue to defy and defeat terror threats.
“It is a terrorist attack and it underlines the need for us to be constantly vigilant, never to be deterred, always defiant, in the face of Islamist terrorism,” he said today.
This morning he demanded to know why the attacker had been allowed parole.
“I have raised this today with the Victorian premier, whom I called last night and I called again this morning,” Mr Turnbull said.
“How was this man on parole … he had a long record of violence. A very long record of violence.
“He had been charged with a terrorist offence some years ago and had been acquitted. He was known to have connections, at least in the past, with violent extremism.”
Acting AFP commissioner Michael Phelan warned the threat of terrorism in Australia “is real”, with 12 plots disrupted since the threat level was raised to “probable”.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian will travel to Hobart to be briefed by the government’s counter-terrorism co-ordinator Tony Sheehan at Friday’s COAG meeting with Mr Turnbull and other state leaders.
Mr Sheehan’s review of public safety, commissioned after the Nice attack in France, is due to be handed to the government as soon as this week.
FATAL AUSTRALIAN SIEGE CALLED A TERROR ATTACK
Australian police say they are treating the deadly shooting and siege in Melbourne as a terrorist incident after the Islamic State group claimed responsibility.
A man of Somali background was killed in a gunbattle with police when he opened fire after taking an escort girl hostage at an apartment block in the city last night.
It is alleged Yacqub Khayre, 29, had first killed a Chinese-born Australian man in the foyer.
Police said he had made statements “around Al-Qaeda” and called a local television station making similar comments, reportedly saying: “This is for IS, this is for Al-Qaeda.”
“We’re treating this as a terrorism incident,” Victoria Police chief commissioner Graham Ashton said, but added that investigations were still ongoing into whether it was planned or random.
“We’re not seeing anything indicating that he’s got some message from overseas to do this at all but, again, early days. We’ve got material that’s seized. We’ll go through that and work it out.”
The Amaq news agency — which is affiliated with the so-called Islamic State group — carried a statement claiming responsibility.
“The executor of the Melbourne attack in Australia is a soldier of the Islamic State and he carried out the attack in response to appeals to target citizens of coalition states,” it said.
Ashton said IS “always tend to jump up and claim responsibility every time something happens” and it was too early to determine whether they were involved.
Authorities had responded to reports of an explosion at the building, which turned out to be a gunshot, in the affluent beach suburb of Brighton and arrived to find a dead body in the foyer.
“Subsequently he (Khayre) came out of the apartment with a shotgun and commenced to fire at police at the entry-way to the apartments …” Ashton said.
“He’s exchanged gunfire with police and has been fatally shot by police at the scene.”
The escort escaped unharmed but three police were hurt in the firefight, although their injuries were not life-threatening.
KHAYRE’S LINK TO ‘EVIL’ HOLSWORTHY PLOT
An audacious plot by Islamic extremists for a massive terrorist suicide attack at the Holsworthy Barracks was foiled by a massive surveillance operation by police in 2009.
Investigators at the time believed that had the plot to shoot as many people as possible at one of Australia’s biggest army bases succeeded it would have been the worst-ever terrorist attack on home soil.
They managed to thwart the deadly plan for a shooting rampage at the barracks in Sydney’s southwest, where thousands of army troops and a major anti-terrorist unit was based, after a lengthy surveillance campaign led to multiple arrests after raids in Melbourne in August 2009.
Yacqub Khayre was one of five men who stood trial in 2010 over the plot but he and one of his co-accused, Abdirahman Ahmed, were acquitted by the Victorian Supreme Court.
Three other men — Wissam Mahmoud Fattal, Saney Edow Aweys, and Nayef El Sayed — were found guilty of plotting the killing spree as a form of payback for Australia’s role in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, as well as the jailing of other Islamic terrorists.
The trio planned to arm themselves with high-powered machine guns and kill as many as possible at the Holsworthy Barracks and to keep shooting until they either ran out of ammunition or were stopped or killed.
The 2nd Commando Regiment was one of three main units based at the huge army barracks, which featured a world-leading unit dedicated to training counter- terrorism forces.
The barracks, stretching from Liverpool to Campbelltown and across to Heathcoate, also borders the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor.
The plot was uncovered during a joint anti-terrorism operation by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, Australian Federal Police, Victoria Police, NSW Police and the NSW Crime Commission.
Investigators carried out a series of raids on properties in Melbourne in August 2009 in relation to the plot by a suspected terrorist cell of Australian nationals of Somali and Lebanese backgrounds.
The group had spent much of 2009 planning the attack after being inspired by the Somalia-based terrorist movement Al-Shabaab, which had connections with al- Qaeda.
During the trial of the five men in Victoria, a jury heard the men sought permission from Islamist clerics in Somalia to carry out a “fatwa” in Australia.
Police secretly recorded several phone calls between the accused men, including one during which Fattal and El Sayed discussed how they believed Australians were the enemy because they oppressed Muslims.
Fattal was also filmed by security footage walking around the boundary of the Holsworthy base and spoke of being awarded paradise if he killed Australian soldiers.
As she handed down maximum 18-years jail terms in late 2011, Supreme Court Justice Betty King described the terrorist plot as “evil” and said the three men should hang their heads in shame.
The trio lost an appeal against their conviction and jail terms in 2013.