On Friday evening, a 15-year-old jihadi gunned down a civilian police employee as he was walking out of a suburban Sydney police station. Australian Islamist groups have refused to condemn the killing, which the authorities described as politically motivated terrorism, while playing coy as to the killer’s exact motivations.
For example, here is how the Associated Press described the attack by the teenage gunman later identified as Farhad Khalil Mohammad Jabar, although he is not named in the AP article:
The 15-year-old, who is of Iraqi-Kurdish background and was born in Iran, shot a New South Wales police finance worker with a handgun at close range as the man left work in the western Sydney suburb of Parramatta on Friday, said Commissioner Andrew Scipione. The teen then fired at responding officers, who shot and killed him, he added.
“We are a long way from establishing a full picture of this man. His exact motivation still remains a mystery to us,” said Mr Scipione. “We believe that based on the information that we have that this was politically motivated. If it’s politically motivated violence, then under our definition, it is deemed necessarily an act of terrorism.”
He declined to release details on why police believe the teen’s actions were prompted by politics.
Police think he was acting alone, and do not know whether he’d been influenced or radicalised by someone else, Mr Scipione said. Officials had not received any warnings that a shooting was imminent, he said.
The Sydney Morning Herald identified the shooter by name, and said he was a student at Arthur Philip High, only 300 meters from where the attack took place. According to this account, Jabar came up behind his victim, 58-year-old civilian police accountant Curtis Cheng, and shot him in the back at close range around 4:30 p.m. local time Friday. Jabar continued firing his handgun outside the police station until he was killed by armed police officers.
The report further states that Jabar was not believed to be directly linked to anyone arrested in the sweeping Operation Appleby counter-terrorism raids of September 2014.
The killer’s brother and sister clearly suspected something was going on with the teen and acted in very different ways:
It was reported that his brother contacted police after hearing of the shooting, concerned Farhed might have been involved.
Police were on Saturday night trying to make contact with Farhad’s sister. The ABC reported she flew out of Australia on a Singapore Airlines flight bound for Istanbul on Thursday and may have been attempting to reach Iraq or Syria.
She had taken all of her belongings with her.
Farhad reportedly visited a nearby mosque immediately before the attack, where he changed into a “flowing black shirt and black trousers.” Police detectives were reportedly investigating the mosque, primarily to learn if the teenager left any items of interest there when he changed clothes. A nearby Islamic bookstore has also been described as a location of interest.
Witnesses cited by News.com.au said the killer spent a few minutes pacing back and forth in front of the police station, evidently nerving himself up for the attack. After he shot Cheng, he began running up and down the sidewalk yelling, “Allah, Allah!”
Footage from nearby security cameras showing the killer running down the street and firing his gun in the air has been published:
It would seem that whoever radicalized Farhad worked quickly because his social media activity trailed off less than two years ago and was said to be mostly concerned with pop-culture trivia, including American basketball and the TV show The Voice. People in the area who knew him described him as an average teenage boy, never before seen wearing an outfit like the black robes he donned for his terror attack.
The Daily Liberal reports that, contrary to the official line about how Jabar acted completely alone, a police source said that increased online “chatter” about a possible attack on the Parramatta headquarters had been detected, leading to orders that police officers were to wear their guns at all times, even when working at their desks.
“We do not support anyone who does stupid things. I strongly condemn such actions” was the curious response from Neil El-Kadomi, head of the Parramatta Islamic Association. He went on to urge everyone to “get on with their lives” and have a nice weekend.
Australia’s hardcore Islamist community did indeed get on with their weekends. News.com.au reports that an extremist Salafist organization, the Islamic Research and Educational Academy, proceeded with a scheduled “Art of Da’Wah” workshop, where attendees were to “learn the art and gain the confidence to talk about Islam to anyone, anywhere and at any time.”
The Australian reports that Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia refused to condemn the attack, and carried on with a protest “calling for the end of U.S. and Russian action in Syria,” although they also seemed very upset with the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. It is not difficult to do the math and deduce which side of the Syrian civil war they are rooting for.
In other words, he was saying he would not get too worked up about the murder until Australians began paying more attention to his issues, which he proceeded to detail, railing against “the duplicity of Western states, including the Australian government.” He was saying that Allah created Muslims with “two eyes” so “we can see the big crimes and the small crimes,” and asserting that Allah would deliver promised victory to “our brothers in Syria and all around the Muslim world.”
Australian authorities are striving mightily to ignore this kind of talk and paint Farhad Jabar’s motives as mysterious and inexplicable, although by Saturday, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was giving the game away by saying, “It’s tragic for the family of the police worker, for the community and for Australia as a whole when a 15-year-old boy can be so radicalized that he can carry out a politically motivated killing or an act of terrorism,” adding that “it’s a time for the whole nation to take stock.”
Recently installed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also decried “radicalization” as he declared, “This appears to have been an act of politically motivated violence so at this stage it appears to have been an act of terrorism. It is a shocking crime.”
“We must not vilify or blame the entire Muslim community with the actions of what is, in truth, a very, very small percentage of violent extremist individuals,” Turnbull added, leaving little doubt what sort of radicalization was involved. “The Muslim community are our absolutely necessary partners in combating this type of violent extremism.”
The victim, Curtis Cheng, was a 17-year employee of the police department, survived by his wife and two children in their 20s. “My father was a kind, gentle, and loving person. He was humourous, generous of heart and always put the family first. He has set a tremendous example for us as a family,” read a statement from the family. “We are deeply saddened and heartbroken that he has been taken from us, but we are truly grateful for the fruitful and happy life he has shared with us.”