The Associated Press
SYDNEY — A man charged with committing a terrorist act and attempted murder after allegedly stabbing a man in Sydney was inspired by the Islamic State group, police said Sunday.
Wayne Greenhalgh, 59, was stabbed several times while walking through a park in suburban Minto in southwest Sydney on Saturday afternoon and is in critical condition, police said in a statement.
The suspect, Ihsas Khan, 22, also attempted to stab a police officer before he was arrested, police said. He was charged Sunday and faces a potential life prison sentence if convicted.
Khan was refused bail in the Parramatta Bail Court and his case was adjourned until Wednesday. He did not enter pleas.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull noted that the attack came on the eve of the 15th anniversary of the al-Qaida attacks on the United States.
“Connecting them both is a violent Islamist ideology,” Turnbull told reporters.
Khan and Greenhalgh did not know each other, and New South Wales Deputy Police Commissioner Catherine Burn described the attack as planned and deliberate.
“This was clearly a very volatile, a very violent situation that police and the members of the community were confronted with,” Burn told reporters.
Khan shouted words at the scene, which led police to believe he was inspired by the IS group, Burn said.
“We know that this person has strong religious beliefs inspired by ISIS. What made him act yesterday we don’t know,” she said.
The victim’s wife, Bronwyn Greenhalgh, said her husband had a punctured lung and had lost several fingers.
“He (Khan) just came toward him (Wayne Greenhalgh) and got a machete out of his backpack and started going at Wayne,” Bronwyn Greenhalgh told Ten Network television.
Khan had previously been charged with a property-related offence, Burn said.
Vietnam war veteran Les King said Khan had stolen and destroyed Australian flags from his fence in 2013. Ten reported Kahn was charged with malicious damage but he escaped punishment due to this mental health.
“He has had a couple of interactions with local police over matters where we might say his behavior was odd or unusual,” Burn said. “He is a person of concern.”
Despite his unusual behavior, he was not known to be connected with any terrorist group, she said.
“This really highlights the challenge that this is the new face of terrorism,” she added.
Federal Attorney General George Brandis said bystanders had put their own lives at risk by intervening in the attack.
“It may very well be but for the bravery of those citizens to intervene, the victim’s life would have been lost,” Brandis told reporters.
An 18-year-old man was arrested on Thursday outside the Sydney Opera House after allegedly telling security guards he was under instructions to carry out an attack by the IS group.
Counterterrorism investigators charged the teen with threatening to destroy property. Police said he was was carrying two canisters of automotive fluid.
His arrest came days after the IS urged followers to stab, shoot, poison and run over Australians at iconic locations including the Opera House.
The teen appeared in a Sydney court on Friday, where the judge ordered him to undergo a psychiatric assessment.
The government plans to introduce legislation to Parliament this week that would enable courts to keep prisoners convicted of terrorist offenses behind bars for indefinite periods.
Legislation is to be introduced in November that will create a new offense of “advocating genocide.” The crime will enable police to make an earlier arrest when someone is radicalizing others.
Control orders that can force suspects to wear tracking devices and obey curfews could apply to 14-year-olds. Currently the minimum age is 16.
The burden of evidence would also be reduced for a court to jail a suspect with a preventative detention order on the basis that a terrorist attack could occur within two weeks.
Man charged with committing terrorist act in Sydney and attempted murder
Ihsas Khan being taken into custody on Saturday after alleged stabbing in Minto. Photo: Supplied
Rachel Olding, James Massola
A 22-year-old man who allegedly stabbed a stranger in an Islamic State-inspired terror attack in Sydney chased his victim while repeatedly yelling “someone is going to die today,” witnesses said.
Ihsas Khan was charged with committing a terrorist attack following the random stabbing in Minto, in Sydney’s south-west, just after 4pm on Saturday.
Police point Tasers at Ihsas Khan as he sits on the ground. Photo: Supplied
Police say a man charged with committing a terror attack and attempted murder over a stabbing in Sydney’s west on Saturday was inspired by Islamic State. Ccourtesy ABC News 24
And Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull speaking as his government prepares to introduce another tranche of anti-terrorism legislation on the eve of the 15th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks in the US, said the Minto attack served as a reminder “the terror threat is real”. Attorney-General George Brandis said Mr Khan appeared to be acting alone.
Neighbours saw Mr Khan waiting in a reserve on Ohlfsen Road for as long as 10 minutes before local man Wayne Greenhalgh, 59, came through the park on his daily walk.
Wayne Greenhalgh was just out for a walk when Ihsas Khan attacked him
Mr Greenhalgh was then allegedly stabbed several times with a large knife, suffering near-fatal wounds to his hands and body.
He managed to scramble away to the nearby home of Duyen Phan, who runs a salon out of her garage.
A local resident Sharon, who didn’t want her surname published, watched as Ms Phan barricaded herself and Mr Greenhalgh inside the salon while Mr Khan allegedly tried to smash a glass door.
He was yelling “someone is going to die today,” she said.
Other witnesses who had tried to intervene in the reserve said Mr Khan was yelling “Allah Akbar” as he slashed Mr Greenhalgh.
Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn said it’s possible that Mr Khan attacked the stranger in an attempt to lure police and attack them.
When officers tried to arrest him outside the home in Ohlfsen Road, he allegedly attempted to stab an officer through the window using a large knife.
Dramatic photos obtained by Fairfax Media show the moment three officers used Tasers to subdue him before bundling him into a van.
Ms Burn said investigators have found information to suggest Mr Khan had planned to commit an attack on Saturday that was inspired by the so-called Islamic State.
“We know that this person has strong extremist beliefs inspired by ISIS. What made him actually act yesterday we don’t know,” she said on Sunday.
“There was clearly some planning yesterday that we do know about and that only came to light post the incident.”
“This clearly was a very volatile, very violent situation that police and the members of the community were confronted with.”
‘Never hurt a fly’
Mr Greenhalgh was well-known around the neighbourhood and was often seen out walking his dog.
“Everybody knew Wayne. He would say hello to anyone,” said one local resident. “He’d never hurt a fly but I’m sure would fight till death to protect anyone.”
He was taken by ambulance helicopter to Liverpool Hospital in a critical condition on Saturday. His condition improved to serious on Sunday.
Police believe Mr Khan, who also lives in Ohlfsen Road, didn’t know his victim but Ms Burn said he had “formed some views” about him in the immediate lead-up to the attack.
The 22-year-old has a criminal conviction for property-related offences and had come to the attention of local police recently for “odd” behaviour that suggested he may hold extremist beliefs, Ms Burn said.
She said he was not connected to any local or international terror groups but he’s “clearly dealing with some issues”.
Police have seized a large knife as well as computers, phones and other items to be examined for extremist material or any other indicators of a motive.
Mr Khan chose not to appear in Parramatta Bail Court on Sunday and he was refused bail.
“Police would like to reassure the community there is no ongoing threat in relation to this incident,” a statement said.
Prime Minister Turnbull drew a connection between the 9/11 attacks in the US and Saturday’s alleged attack in Sydney with its ISIS or ISIL inspiration.
“We stood then as we stand today shoulder to shoulder with free nations in the battle against terrorism,” he said.
The 9/11 attack was elaborate and had been months in the planning, Mr Turnbull said, whereas the Minto attacked was the latest of an increasingly prevalent number of lone wolf attacks.
“At one level they seem very different, 15 years apart, different events. But connecting them both is a violent Islamist ideology which perverts the religion of Islam and seeks to destroy and threaten our way of life,” he told a media conference, adding the heroism of those on the scene also linked the two events.
“The terrorist threat is described as probable. We saw recently a call by ISIL in their magazine for attacks in Australia. We can’t say whether that particular call inspired this individual,” Mr Turnbull said.
“Intelligence is absolutely critical, it is more important than ever, so I want to say to all Australians that if you see or become aware of something suspicious or unusual, if you know something, or believe somebody could pose a threat to the community, please call the national security hotline.
New anti-terror laws
Attorney-General George Brandis said on Sunday the attack appeared to be ISIL-inspired but the man seemed to have been acting alone.
Senator Brandis said two new anti-terror laws, which had been in development for some time, would be brought to parliament this week.
One would create a new category of control order for young people aged between the ages of 14 and 18.
“At the moment, the minimum age at which a control order can be applied for is 16, but sadly we have seen terrorism events perpetrated in Australia by people as young as 14 years of age,” he said.
The other piece of legislation was a criminal code amendment for high-risk terrorism offenders, which would provide for a uniform, nationwide regime of post-sentence detention.
In effect, the law would allow people convicted of terrorism offences, who have served their prison term but are judged to be unreformed and still determined to carry out terrorist actions, to be detained, potentially indefinitely.
“We cannot allow and we will not stand by to allow our society to be threatened by people of that kind,” he said.Under the proposal, the Attorney-General would apply to the Supreme Court in the state where a person is detained for a post-sentence detention order.The court would have to be satisfied on the basis of admissible evidence there was a high degree of possibility that a person could re-offend.
– with Emma Partridge
Report includes video:
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