A 29-year-old service station attendant was stabbed to death, and as usual, it took some surfing to find out that the attack was being investigated as a jihad terrorist attack, although the reasons for this investigation appear to have been known in the early stages. The Guardian reported that the attack by two teen boys who were “known to police” had a possible terror link, without indicating what kind. ABC Australia referenced the incident only as a “horrific fatal stabbing” by two teen boys. It was The Australian that ran the headline: “Stab attack: IS ‘written in blood,’” and noted that “police sources say they are investigating whether they were radicalised by extremist Islamic ideology,” although “police are also investigating whether the incident was drug-related.”
But the writing was on the wall, so to speak:
A sheet of paper covers the window of the Queanbeyan service station where letters “IS” (Islamic State) were apparently written in blood after a 29-year-old attendant was fatally stabbed.
“Stab attack: IS ‘written in blood’”, by Rachel Baxendale, The Australian, April 7, 2017:
Counter terrorism police are investigating whether two 15- and 16-year-old boys who allegedly murdered Pakistani student Zeeshan Akbar during a violent crime spree had been radicalised by extremist Islamic ideology.
The teenagers went on a violent crime spree but police sources says they are investigating whether they were radicalised by extremist Islamic ideology. the letters ‘IS’, potentially an acronym for the terrorist group Islamic State were apparently smeared on the wall and window of the Bungendore Road service station where Akbar was killed, police sources said.
NSW police say one of the teenagers arrested may have terror links.
Addressing the media this afternoon, Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn said evidence at the crime scene led police to believe the 16-year-old may have terrorist links.
“We have two teenagers in custody and sufficient information to believe the actions of one of those teenagers may be related to terrorism,” Dep. Commissioner Burn said.
The Joint-Counter Terrorism Team has taken over the investigation, which is also looking into potentially related events including an attempted robbery at a bottle shop in the ACT, an attack on a homeless man and at a unit in Queanbeyan and later an attack where a man was stabbed and his vehicle stolen.
That man is believed to be in a stable condition.
Police are also investigating whether the incident was drug-related.
The Australian understands the teenagers are not expected to be charged until tomorrow, when the are expected to appear in the ACT Magistrates’ Court before being extradited to NSW.
The two young assailants are NSW natives who were known to the police, according to Dep. Commissioner Burn, but their criminal history is unknown.
Mr Akbar was a Pakistani national who had recently applied for Australian citizenship.
Mr Akbar’s friend and former colleague Shah Nawaz Mohammed, 23, said he was a lovely man.
“He was such a nice guy, always helping. He never had a problem with anybody,” Mr Mohammed said.
He said he had worked with Mr Akbar at the service station up until about a year ago and understood he had been living in Queanbeyan for about 18 months after moving here from Melbourne.
The pair had also worked selling pizzas in Canberra, and Mr Mohammed said he thought Mr Akbar had been living in Australia for five or six years.
Mr Akbar has a cousin in Australia, but the rest of his family remains in Pakistan.
He had been living with other Pakistani men in Queanbeyan.
Mr Mohammed, who now drives Ubers for a living, said the stabbing made him glad he was no longer working in service stations.
“Absolutely. I feel so bad and scared,” he said. I don’t want to work in those sort of places any more because life is too important. I don’t want to lose my life for a few dollars.
Mr Mohammed said Uber drivers would be more reluctant to take passengers from Queanbeyan, which already had a reputation for being unsafe.
Another colleague, Shani Qureshi, 27 said he could not understand any radical Islamic motivation for the attack, indicating that both he and Mr Akbar were Muslims.
“I’ve been here for about two years,” he said.
“I’ve never had any customer talk to me about religion or had any racism. We normally have very good customers.”
Mr Qureshi said Mr Akbar was great to work with.
“He was a very nice guy, very helpful.”
He said he and Mr Akbar had worked together for about a year and a half, more often at the Canberra Airport Caltex than at the Queanbeyan outlet.
“It could have happened with anyone, any one of us,” Mr Qureshi said.
Earlier, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said allegations the teenagers killed a service station employee in Queanbeyan “underline” the government’s concerns about terrorism.
Mr Turnbull made a carefully worded statement about the attack when announcing the government’s support for US strikes against Syria on Friday.
“Two juvenile males, a 15-year-old and 16-year-old male are in custody following the alleged murder of a 29-year-old man in Queanbeyan overnight.”
“Our condolences go to the family of the victim. We send our prayers and best wishes to the two other victims of that evening,” he said.
Mr Turnbull did not specifically label the event as a terror attack but said the Australian Federal Police’s counter-terror team was investigating the matter.
“The police will be making a statement about this but I can say that the circumstances have raised sufficient concern, as I have discussed with the Commissioner of the AFP, Andrew Colvin, raise sufficient concern to warrant the involvement of the joint counter-terrorism team,” he said.
He said the events “underline” the government concerns about terrorism….