16-Year-Old Charged with Terrorism in Sydney Church Stabbing Attack

16-year-old charged with terrorism for stabbing church leaders in Sydney, sparking riots; authorities investigate online misinformation as a factor.

Geeta Pillai
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16-Year-Old Charged with Terrorism in Sydney Church Stabbing Attack

16-Year-Old Charged with Terrorism in Sydney Church Stabbing Attack

A 16-year-old boy has been charged with a terrorism offense for allegedly stabbing Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel and Rev. Isaac Royel during a live-streamed sermon at the Christ The Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley, a suburb of Sydney, Australia. The attack occurred on Monday night and left the bishop and priest with non-life-threatening injuries.

The Joint Counter Terrorism Team Sydney interviewed the boy in the hospital and charged him with committing a terrorist act, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Authorities declared the incident a terrorist attack due to the teen's possible religious motivation. The boy allegedly made comments in Arabic referring to insults against "my prophet" before the stabbing.

The teenager, who has a long history of mental health issues and behavioral problems, allegedly traveled 90 minutes from his home to the church before attacking the bishop. He was seen by a forensic psychologist for assessment, and his lawyer stated arrangements were being made to determine his fitness for treatment. The boy's family condemned his actions, saying he had anger management issues but showed no signs of radicalization.

Shortly after the stabbing, a riot broke out outside the church, resulting in over 50 police officers being injured and police cars being vandalized. NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb said many people who turned up for the commotion were not members of the church community and were there to participate in the riot. Police are investigating the spread of misinformation on social media that may have incited the riot.

Why this matters: The incident has shocked the residents of Sydney, coming just three days after a separate stabbing attack at a shopping mall that killed six people. It highlights the ongoing threat of terrorism and the challenges authorities face in combating extremism and misinformation spread online.

In an audio message, Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel said he has forgiven his accused attacker and urged his followers to be "Christlike" and refrain from violence. NSW Premier Chris Minns met with religious leaders to call for calm and cohesion in the community. The Australian Prime Minister condemned the attack and the subsequent riots, stating that the police should be treated with respect while keeping the community safe. Police are continuing to investigate the incident and expect to make more arrests related to the riots.

Key Takeaways

  • 16-year-old boy charged with terrorism for church stabbing in Sydney, Australia
  • Bishop and priest suffered non-life-threatening injuries; teen had mental health issues
  • Riot broke out after attack, over 50 police officers injured and cars vandalized
  • Bishop forgave attacker, urged followers to be "Christlike" and avoid violence
  • Incident highlights ongoing threat of terrorism and challenges of combating extremism