16-Year-Old Charged with Terrorism After Stabbing Assyrian Bishop in Sydney, Sparking Riot

16-year-old charged with terrorist act after stabbing Assyrian bishop in Sydney church, sparking riot that injured 50 police officers. Authorities face criticism over swift terrorism charge against suspect with mental health issues.

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Geeta Pillai
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16-Year-Old Charged with Terrorism After Stabbing Assyrian Bishop in Sydney, Sparking Riot

16-Year-Old Charged with Terrorism After Stabbing Assyrian Bishop in Sydney, Sparking Riot

A 16-year-old boy has been charged with committing a terrorist act after allegedly stabbing Assyrian bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel during a live-streamed service at a church in Wakeley, Sydney. The attack on the 53-year-old religious leader, which occurred on Monday around 7 p.m. local time at the Assyrian Christ The Good Shepherd Church, sparked a riot involving around 2,000 people and led to clashes with police.

Four people, including Bishop Emmanuel, sustained non-life-threatening injuries in the stabbing. After the attack, a large crowd formed outside the church and began to riot, assaulting police with bricks, concrete, and other missiles. More than 50 police officers were injured, with 26 requiring treatment, and 94 police vehicles were damaged during the unrest.

Two more men have been charged over their roles in the riot. Sam Haddad, 45, was charged with riot and threatening violence but was released on bail. A 28-year-old man from Horningsea Park was also arrested and charged with threatening violence to cause fear. He was refused bail. The first person charged in connection with the riot was 19-year-old Dani Mansour, who allegedly filmed himself damaging police cars. He was granted bail after being accused of riot, affray, and destroying or damaging property.

NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb quickly declared the stabbing a terrorist event, and a counterterrorism investigation team has been formed to investigate the crime. Authorities have faced criticism for the swift terrorism charge against the 16-year-old suspect, who has a history of mental health treatment since the age of 5 and has shown behavior consistent with mental illness or intellectual disability.

Why this matters: The incident has raised concerns about religious tensions and the threat of extremism in the area. It also highlights the challenges faced by authorities in balancing the need for a thorough investigation with the desire to reassure the public in the wake of a violent attack.

Premier Chris Minns expressed confidence that local religious leaders believe there is no place for violence in their community. A surge police force will continue to operate in southwest Sydney this weekend, and a planned youth event will proceed in Fairfield. Police have established a strike force to identify and charge the rioters, some of whom wore masks during the violence. They are asking the community for assistance in identifying up to 50 people involved in the unrest.

Key Takeaways

  • 16-year-old charged with terrorist act after stabbing Assyrian bishop in Sydney
  • Stabbing sparked riot involving 2,000 people, 50+ police officers injured, 94 vehicles damaged
  • 2 more men charged over riot roles, 1st person charged for damaging police cars
  • Police declare stabbing a terrorist event, face criticism over swift terrorism charge
  • Authorities aim to identify and charge rioters, increased police presence in area