Boy shot dead after Perth stabbing was in deradicalization program, but no ties seen to Sydney teens – Metro US

Boy shot dead after Perth stabbing was in deradicalization program, but no ties seen to Sydney teens

Australia Police Shooting
In this image from a video, Western Australian Police Commissioner Col Blanch speaks at a press conference in Perth, Australia Sunday, May 5, 2024. A 16-year-old boy armed with a knife was shot dead by police after he stabbed a man in the Australian west coast city of Perth, officials said Sunday. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation via AP)

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A 16-year-old boy who was shot dead by police after stabbing a man in the Australian west coast city of Perth had been in a deradicalization program but had no links to an alleged network of teen extremists in the east coast city of Sydney, authorities said.

The boy had participated in the federally funded Countering Violent Extremism program for two years but had no criminal record, Western Australia Police Minister Paul Papalia said Monday.

“The challenge we confront with people like the 16-year-old in this incident is that he’s known to hold views that are dangerous and potentially he could be radicalized,” Papalia said. “But the problem with individuals like this is they can act at short notice without warning and be very dangerous.”

On the potential for the boy to have been radicalized, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he was concerned by social media pushing extreme positions.

“It’s a dynamic that isn’t just an issue for government. It’s an issue for our entire society, whether it be violent extremism, misogyny and violence against women. It is an issue that of course I’m concerned about,” Albanese told reporters.

Western Australia Police Commissioner Col Blanch said the boy had phoned police late Saturday saying he was about to commit “acts of violence” but did not say where. Minutes later, a member of the public reported to police seeing the boy with a knife in a hardware store parking lot.

Three police officers responded, one armed with a gun and two with stun guns. Police deployed both stun guns but they failed to incapacitate the boy before he was killed by a single gunshot, Blanch said.

The stabbing victim is a man in his 30s who was wounded in his back. He was in serious but stable condition at a Perth hospital, police said.

Blanch said members of the local Muslim community had raised concerns with police about the boy’s behavior before he was killed on Saturday.

The boy had said in a text message to associates, “I am going on the path of jihad tonight for the sake of Allah,” Australian Associated Press reported, prompting several to alert police.

Police said the stabbing had the hallmarks of a terrorist attack but have not declared it as such. Factors that can influence that decision include whether state police need federal resources, including the Australian Security Intelligence Organization domestic spy agency.

Blanch said the Western Australia Police Force investigation did not need additional federal resources and he was confidence the situation was different from the one in Sydney.

“We are dealing with complex issues, both mental health issues but also online radicalization issues,” Blanch said Sunday. “But we believe he very much is acting alone and we do not have concerns at this time that there is an ongoing network or other concerns that might have been seen over in Sydney.”

Western Australia Premier Roger Cook said his government and the state education department had been aware of concerns at the boy’s school about his behavior. Cook didn’t directly respond to reports that several boys at Rossmoyne Senior High School, the prestigious government school he attended, were attempting to radicalize classmates.

“I’ll leave that up the the Education Department to clarify,” Cook told reporters. “This young man was harboring some extremist thoughts, which is the reason why he was part of the Countering Violent Extremism program.”

Amanda Spencer-Teo, a parent of a Rossmoyne student, said multiple “red flags” had been raised about the behavior of some students.

“Parents have been raising this with the school for some time,” Spencer-Teo, who will be an opposition party candidate at state elections next year, told The Australian newspaper. “The school and the department have failed to provide information to those concerned parents.”

In the stabbings at a Sydney church on April 15, New South Wales Police Commissioner Karen Webb declared the stabbings of an Assyrian Orthodox bishop and priest as a terrorist act within hours. The boy arrested was later charged with committing a terrorist act. In the subsequent investigation, six more teenagers were charged with terror-related offenses.

Police alleged all seven were part of a network that “adhered to a religiously motivated, violent extremist ideology.”

Some Muslim leaders have criticized Australian police for declaring the church stabbing a terrorist act but not a rampage two days earlier in a Sydney shopping mall in which six people were killed and a dozen wounded.

The 40-year-old attacker, who was shot dead by police, had a history of schizophrenia and most of the victims he targeted were women. Police have yet to reveal the man’s motive.