Five children charged after Sydney church terrorist attack

By 1news.co.nz and is republished with permission

Five children have been charged in connection with the stabbing of an Orthodox Christian bishop at a western Sydney church.

Five children have been charged after seven were arrested in connection with the stabbing of an Orthodox Christian bishop at a western Sydney church. (Source: NSW Police)

A joint counterterrorism team involving 400 police officers undertook 13 raids at several homes across Sydney yesterday morning in response to the stabbing attack at a Wakeley church in the city’s south-west.

In a statement, NSW Police said five juveniles had been charged following the arrests of seven boys.

Two males, aged 17 and 14 years, were charged with possessing or controlling violent extremist material obtained or accessed using a carriage service.

One boy, aged 17, was charged with conspiring to engage in an act in preparation for, or planning, a terrorist act and custody of a knife in a public place.

Two boys, both aged 16, face offences for conspiring to engage in any act in preparation for or planning a terrorist act.

All five were refused bail to appear before a Children’s Court today.

A 16-year-old boy has been charged over the stabbing of Assyrian bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel and priest Isaac Royel during a live-streamed service at Christ the Good Shepherd Church on April 15.

NSW Police are continuing to investigate the associates of the boy, who is alleged to have committed an act of terrorism.

All clear given for Anzac Day

Meanwhile, authorities have reassured Australians commemorating Anzac Day that there is no threat to public safety for today’s events.

NSW Police Deputy Commissioner David Hudson said the loosely connected group posed an “unacceptable risk and threat” to the state.

“The execution of those warrants is continuing,” he said.

“I can assure the community there is no ongoing threat to the community and the action we have taken has mitigated any risk of future or further harm.”

Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Krissy Barrett stressed the arrests were “not linked to Anzac Day commemorations or any religious holiday”.

“There is no immediate danger to the community,” she said.

No specific targets were nominated but the ongoing threat and loose nature of the group, including some splinter groups, alarmed authorities.

The boy who allegedly attacked the bishop, who was giving a sermon, has been charged with committing a terrorist act, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

His lawyer told a court last week he had received intermittent treatment for mental health issues for some years.

Several people have also been arrested and charged over riots that broke out outside the church following the stabbing.

The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils said it was conscious of community concerns following the police operation in southwest Sydney.

“AFIC, along with prominent members of the community, have engaged with government as a result,” President Rateb Jneid said in a statement.

“We recognise that rumours swiftly emerge after such incidents. We reject trial by speculation.”

Jneid said speculation erodes trust and divides communities.

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