The stabbing of three people in Melbourne – one of whom died from his wounds – has been ruled an act of terrorism by local authorities.
The 30-year-old attacker, who was shot dead by police at the scene, was known to law enforcement. He is said to have been “inspired” by ISIS, and his brother had been arrested on terrorism charges in 2017, according to The Independent.
Since 2005, Australian police records show:
- 7 attacks (including this most recent attack)
- 18 “disrupted” attacks
- 41 arrests in the state of Victoria (Melbourne is Victoria’s capital)
Australia’s national terrorism threat level is listed as ‘probable’. This is the same level it has been at since a rating scale was introduced in 2015, and is said to be a “midpoint” on the scale.
Lone Wolf Attacker
As is the case in many other recent attacks, one person was responsible and there’s no indication that he had assistance or backup from a larger group. He is thought to have been “inspired” by extremist groups such as ISIS though, and was probably exposed to recruitment and encouragement online.
Social media sites have been taking active steps to remove terrorism-related posts – Facebook reports that it has removed 3 million in the 3rd quarter of 2018 alone, using machine-learning tools – but clearly some messages are still getting through.
Acting Deputy Commissioner for National Security, Ian McCartney (as reported by The Independent) called the attack a “ huge wake-up call,” adding that, “Even with the fall of the Isis caliphate, the threat continues to be real.”
After the 2014 attack on a Sydney Café, Time magazine speculated that Australia was becoming a target due to its ties to the USA, as well as involvement in conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan.
The “alienation” of small groups of Muslim Australians has also been noted as a potential issue, and Time estimated that 70 Australians had gone over to Syria and surrounds to join Isis and similar groups.
It seems Australia is simply in a similar position to the UK and Europe – terrorism is a possibility and we can’t ignore it, but we don’t believe the likelihood is strong enough to make us avoid travelling there.
Clearly it’s encouraging that the number of prevented attacks is much higher than the number of actual attacks, and it’s evident that police are doing everything in their power to track suspicious activity. Of course, tracking every potential lone wolf is no easy task, We must be alert when we travel to Australia, making sure we’re prepared with information and the appropriate travel insurance cover – just as we would anywhere else – but Australians are refusing to live in fear, and we’re standing with them!