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Acting PM plays down Queanbeyan terrorism investigation

By Charlotte Harper - 7 April 2017 7

Stabbing victim Zeeshan Akhbar died at the Caltex service station at Queanbeyan. Photo: Facebook

While the NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team is now investigating last night’s fatal stabbing of 29-year-old Caltex service station attendant Zeeshan Akbar in Queanbeyan and connected incidents, the matters should be considered criminal rather than terror-related at this stage according to Acting Australian Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.

“It’s very dangerous to start jumping to conclusions and saying it was a terrorist event,” Mr Joyce told ABC News tonight.

“I mean it was certainly a criminal event and criminal events get investigated and when the proper process has taken place, we’ll have more information to tell people about.

“But there’s nothing worse than jumping out and saying it was a terrorist event if you find out later that it wasn’t. It was a criminal event, no doubt about that.

“It is being investigated, if there’s further information that needs to be disclosed to the public in due course, that’s precisely what we’ll do, but let’s just keep it where it is at the moment, it is a criminal event.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had earlier acknowledged that the circumstances were “sufficient to warrant concern” in relation to a possible terror link or motive.

Two teenaged Queanbeyan boys, aged 16 and 15, remain in custody in the ACT in relation to the incident following their arrest early this morning in relation to a cross-border crime spree that left the service station attendant dead and another man seriously injured.

Following information obtained by investigators, the NSW Police Force has activated its counter terrorism arrangements, including an investigation into the matters by the NSW Joint-Counter Terrorism Team.

NSW Police Force Deputy Commissioner, Specialist Operations Catherine Burn told a media conference this afternoon that investigators would examine the motivation behind the attack and other criminal incidents that occurred in Queanbeyan and the ACT overnight.

“I want to reassure the community that there is no ongoing threat in relation to this matter at this stage,” she said.

“We have two teenagers in custody and sufficient information to believe the actions of one of those teenagers may be related to terrorism.

“That information comes from physical evidence at the scene and other sources.

“This investigation is in its infancy. We are also looking at number of other incidents involving an attempted robbery at a bottle shop in the ACT, an attack on a homeless man in Queanbeyan, an assault at a unit in Queanbeyan and later an attack where a man was stabbed and his vehicle stolen.”

ABC News reported tonight that police believe the service station attendant’s blood was used to write the letters “IS” on the window of the service station following the attack late last night, and that there were indications the 16-year-old was linked to terrorist activity.

“Police say he’d been searching IS propaganda online,” ABC journalist Elise Scott reported.

AFP Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan said the community should continue to go about their daily lives, and encouraged anyone with information regarding incidents in Queanbeyan overnight to contact authorities.

“Anyone with information on this matter should come forward, no matter how small or insignificant you may think that information could be,” he said.

“The public should continue to exercise caution and we urge people to report anything that doesn’t look right to the National Security Hotline by calling 1800 123 400. Life-threatening situations should be reported to the police by calling Triple Zero (000), while information can be provided to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.”

The terrorist threat in Australia has not changed; under the National Terrorism Threat Advisory System (NTTAS), the level is Probable. Credible intelligence, assessed by security agencies, indicates that individuals or groups continue to possess the intent and capability to conduct a terrorist attack in Australia.

The NSW Joint Counter Terrorism Team – comprising the NSW Police Force, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, and the NSW Crime Commission – maintains strong links with intelligence and other agencies to provide understanding of issues and threats.

The two teens have yet to be charged and are expected to appear in court tomorrow.

Pictured above is Zeeshan Akhbar, the service station attendant who died as a result of stab wounds sustained late last night. Photo: Facebook

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7 Responses to
Acting PM plays down Queanbeyan terrorism investigation
Milo11 3:14 pm 10 Apr 17

dungfungus said :

Milo11 said :

It may be a terror inspired incident but it a bit of a stretch to call it a terrorist act in itself.

Are you trying to change the meaning of “terrorism”?

I don’t think so, if anything I think I am defending the current meaning. This appears to be nothing more than a murderous crime spree, those who committed the crimes may have been somewhat inspired by terrorist propaganda if the reports are correct but as far as been a terrorist act in and of itself I don’t think this qualifies.

Mysteryman 10:25 am 10 Apr 17

Those two murders deserve to be tried as adults.

dungfungus 10:13 am 10 Apr 17

Milo11 said :

It may be a terror inspired incident but it a bit of a stretch to call it a terrorist act in itself.

Are you trying to change the meaning of “terrorism”?

Milo11 7:43 am 10 Apr 17

It may be a terror inspired incident but it a bit of a stretch to call it a terrorist act in itself.

Rollersk8r 12:00 pm 09 Apr 17

I happened to see the interview with Barnaby and he said the right things. It is a shocking crime regardless. It doesn’t deserve any more or less attention based on speculation there may have been vague terrorist motivations.

dungfungus 9:44 am 08 Apr 17

wildturkeycanoe said :

I have to agree that this really shouldn’t be considered as terrorism. Sure the public is terrorized, but it is a series of individual attacks, not something aimed specifically at a group such as white Australians or a religious order. Do we classify serial killers as terrorists? Do we label a habitual road rager as a terrorist? To satisfy the definition, there has to be some political or religious motivation for the crimes – which have not yet been shown.
When the age of these young criminals was revealed, I was astonished. The first though that came to mind was “Where are the parents?”. Did they know what their children were doing at that time of night? Why were they even running around the streets instead of in their beds or watching late night TV?
The fact they were known to police obviously suggests that the law has not done enough to protect the public from youths who have already been causing trouble. If you can kill another person at that age, what hope is there of rehabilitation?

I agree, not terrorism of the contemporary type or there would have been many more victims.

Most experts on this subject agree that the “big one” for Australia is yet to come.

wildturkeycanoe 7:17 am 08 Apr 17

I have to agree that this really shouldn’t be considered as terrorism. Sure the public is terrorized, but it is a series of individual attacks, not something aimed specifically at a group such as white Australians or a religious order. Do we classify serial killers as terrorists? Do we label a habitual road rager as a terrorist? To satisfy the definition, there has to be some political or religious motivation for the crimes – which have not yet been shown.
When the age of these young criminals was revealed, I was astonished. The first though that came to mind was “Where are the parents?”. Did they know what their children were doing at that time of night? Why were they even running around the streets instead of in their beds or watching late night TV?
The fact they were known to police obviously suggests that the law has not done enough to protect the public from youths who have already been causing trouble. If you can kill another person at that age, what hope is there of rehabilitation?

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