Australians have learned today the identity of the perpetrator of yesterday’s car bomb and stabbing attack in Bourke Street in Melbourne which claimed the life of one victim. Hassan Shire Ali was inspired by Islamic State and had his passport cancelled in 2015 due to fears he planned to fight in the Syrian Civil War. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack. Ali died in hospital after his stabbing spree was brought to an end when he was shot by a police officer.
Ali was of Somali descent arriving in Australia in the 1990s and had family members who were known to authorities on terror related matters. His brother Ali Khalif Shire Ali is currently on trial accused of preparing and collecting documents to commit a terror attack in Federation Square in December last year. Police have raided two properties in Melbourne’s West occupied by members of his family. The family attended the Virgin Mary Mosque in Hoppers Crossing.
The extent of the family links to radical Islamic extremism, and given that Ali was known to ASIO, the AFP and other security agencies has led to many members of public asking how could this attack have unfolded? It is Australia’s fifth Islamic inspired terror attack in four years and the third deadly incident in Melbourne’s CBD in the past two years.
The man who was stabbed by Ali after his car exploded (which was armed with gas cylinders) and died at the scene has been identified as Sisto Malaspina, one of the co-owners of Pellegrinis, a famous Bourke street coffee house. He went to the aid of the attacker when the car exploded but instead was stabbed. Malaspina was a beloved local figure, Pellegrinis is now closed until Monday. Two other people stabbed by Ali are now recovering in hospital.
There is a vigil planned for 5.30pm today at scene of the attacked organised by Australian Liberty Alliance state election candidate Avi Yemini. The terror scene is now open to the public after being closed last night. Police numbers have been increased for public events this weekend.