UPDATE: Melbourne Deadly Attack Confirmed as Terrorism. Perpetrator Now Dead
The perpetrator of today’s deadly car attack and stabbing spree in Melbourne’s CBD which has now resulted in two people dead was known to ASIO and other security agencies and had links to known convicted terror plotters. The perpetrator after stabbing three people was shot in the chest by police when he tried to stab them has now died in hospital.
He was of Somalian background who arrived in Australia in the 1990s, had convictions for petty crimes and had links to North African terror organizations, his name as not been released. According to the Herald Sun his wife had been reported missing last night and believed to have been radicalized.
The four wheel drive which exploded when it crashed was armed with gas cylinders which is why eye witnesses reported multiple explosions. Victoria Police are now treating it as a terrorism incident with the counter-terrorism command being brought in as well as the homicide squad.
Police Commissioner Graham Ashton confirmed early media reports at a press conference with Premier Daniel Andrews and Police Minister Lisa Neville at 8.30pm tonight. Andrews called it an evil act, thanked police and first respondents and members of the public who helped contained the incident.
The terror scene will not be accessible to the public until 8am tomorrow. Police will be out in extra numbers this weekend at cultural and sporting events to reassure the public. Victoria Police are urging eyewitnesses who took vision of the attack to upload it to their Facebook page.
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy also held a press conference stating there is no room for moral squeamishness and given that this is the third major incident in Melbourne’s CBD in two years and that Victorian’s have had enough of this type of behaviour. He denied he would be using the terror attack for political advantage in the final two weeks of the state election campaign.
The perpetrator has been named Hassan Shire Ali who was inspired by Islamic State and had his passport cancelled in 2015 due to fears he planned to fight in the Syrian Civil War. 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.