An Australian state has ordered a review of how radicalized prisoners are managed after a teenage inmate reportedly carved an Islamic State motto on his army veteran cellmate’s forehead, officials said Sunday.
The general manager of the Kempsey prison, 420 kilometers (260 miles) north of Sydney, had been suspended pending an investigation into the attack Thursday on the 40-year-old former soldier and how he came to share a cell with an Islamic radical, Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin said.
Severin did not detail the allegations against the 18-year-old cellmate. But newspapers reported on Sunday that he had used a sharp object to carve on the soldier’s head “e 4 e” —short for “eye for an eye,” a phrase from Muslim, Christian and Jewish texts that features in Islamic State propaganda.
The teen also reportedly poured boiling water on his cellmate.
Prison guards’ union boss Steve McMahon told Australian Broadcasting Corp. the former soldier had been “severely beaten.”
Severin said the veteran of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in East Timor “won’t have any lasting injuries.” The veteran remained in hospital on Sunday.
“I’m appalled about the fact that these two were allowed to share a cell,” Severin told reporters.
“At face value, he shouldn’t have been sharing a cell with anybody,” Severin added, referring to the teen.
The New South Wales state government announced on Sunday an independent investigation into the management of radicalized prisoners in the state prison system, the largest in Australia.
The 18-year-old had not been accused of violent extremism or terrorism offenses in the past, but had identified himself as a radical, Severin said.
The teen had since been shifted to solitary confinement at the state’s highest security prison in Goulburn. Police said he had been charged with causing grievous bodily harm and with choking the former soldier until he was unconscious. Each charge carries a potential maximum of 10 years in prison. He is will appear in a Kempsey court on May 23.