Sydney church 'terrorist' released by police after knife crime charges just MONTHS before attack

Sydney church 'terrorist' released by police after knife crime charges just MONTHS before attack

Watch: GB News' Mark White covers the second stabbing in Sydney in just days

GB News
James Saunders

By James Saunders

Published: 16/04/2024

- 15:12

Police said the stabbing was a religiously-motivated 'terrorist act' - but the alleged attacker was 'known' to authorities months prior to Monday's chaos

A teenager who sparked chaos at a church in Sydney after allegedly attacking four people while a service was being live-streamed online was charged with knife offences and let go by police mere months before the violence, officials have said.

The alleged attacker, 16, had been arrested and detained by police after targeting a bishop, a priest and two worshippers at Christ the Good Shepherd Church, an Assyrian Orthodox Christian church in Wakeley, Western Sydney.

The four victims received "non-life-threatening" injuries, police said, while the teenager himself was also hurt after riots broke out in and around the church.

Australian authorities have since declared the stabbing a religiously-motivated "terrorist act".

New South Wales (NSW) Police Commissioner Karen Webb said the boy allegedly made comments to the bishop as he approached which were "centred around religion", adding that police believed the staging of the attack during an online live-stream was "intimidating not only the parishioners in attendance, but those parishioners who were watching online".

Footage of the attack was live-streamed online, before a mob rushed to the church where police were holding the attacker


In an interview with Sydney-based radio station 2GB, NSW Premier Chris Minns confirmed reports that the 16-year-old had been charged with a number of offences - some knife-related - in November last year, and had been caught with a blade at school in 2020.

The news had been revealed by Australia's national broadcaster ABC, which said he was charged with offences including possessing a knife following an incident "involving other teenage boys" at a train station in Sydney.

The 16-year-old had been found in possession of a flick knife, and was subsequently charged with being armed with a weapon with intent to commit and indictable offence, stalking and/or intimidation and recklessly destroy or damage property.

He had been released on bail prior to a court appearance in January - where, despite his case being "proven", he had been dismissed with a "good behaviour bond": a type of non-custodial sentence in Australia similar to a form of probation.


Church breach

The alleged attacker himself was also hurt after riots broke out in and around the church


ABC said it understood that by Monday night, the alleged attacker was no longer subject to any court orders or law enforcement supervision.

Minns said the 16-year-old "wasn't on a terrorism watchlist", and he "understood the community concern", while police said he was known - but not "well-known" - to them.

The state premier added: "New South Wales Police are looking at all avenues - particularly radicalisation."

Commissioner Webb said a specialist strike force had been put together to track down those involved in demonstrations outside the church, and vowed: "We will find you and we will come and arrest you."

In reaction to the incident, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese convened an emergency meeting of national security agencies, labelling the attack "disturbing".

Albanese said: "We're a peace-loving nation... There's no place for violent extremism," and urged people to "not take the law into their own hands".

Monday's attack at the church was the second stabbing in as many days in Sydney; on Saturday, six people were killed by a knifeman at a shopping centre in Bondi Junction in the east of the city before the attacker was shot dead by police.

There is no evidence to suggest the two attacks are linked, and the first is not thought to be terror-related.

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