Melbourne stabbings: Somali-born Australian inspired by Isil, say police, as group claims attackA Somali-born Australian who set fire to a gas-laden truck in the centre of Melbourne and fatally stabbed one person before he was shot by police was inspired by Islamic State but did not have direct links with the group, Australian police said on Saturday. In an attack described by the state premier as an “act of evil”, the man sped a utility vehicle down Bourke Street, one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares, and then stopped and apparently set it alight before randomly stabbing pedestrians. A man aged 74, who had been stabbed in the face, died at the scene. Two other men, aged 26 and 58, are in a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) claimed responsibility for the attack. Police identified the man responsible for Friday's attack as 30-year-old Hassan Khalif Shire Ali, 31, whose 21-year-old brother was accused of plotting a mass murder on New Year’s Eve at Federation Square last year, a city centre hub and popular tourist spot. He is in jail awaiting trial. A police officer inspects a body at the crime scene following a stabbing incident in Melbourne Credit: AFP Footage taken by witnesses showed the man lunging with a large knife at police, who shot him in the chest and killed him. Bystanders were yelling at police: "Just shoot him, just shoot him". Police said Shire Ali's Australian passport was cancelled in 2015 after an intelligence report he planned to travel to Syria, but an assessment was made that whilst he had radical views, he posed no threat to national security. "I think it is fair to say he (Shire Ali) was inspired. He was radicalised," Australian Federal Police Acting Deputy Commissioner Ian McCartney told reporters in Melbourne. "We're not saying there was direct contact. We're saying it was more from an inspiration perspective." Australian counter-terrorism investigators were searching two properties in suburban Melbourne on Saturday morning. "Joint Counter Terrorism Team investigators are executing search warrants at two addresses in Werribee and Meadows Heights this morning" Victoria police said in a statement. "More information will be provided when it's appropriate to do so." Scott Morrison, the Australian Prime Minister, said the national terrorism advisory remained at "probable", the midpoint of a five-tier system, and told reporters in Sydney that radical Islam was the issue. "I need to call it out. Radical, violent, extremist Islam that opposes our very way of life. I am the first to protect religious freedom in this country, but that also means I must be the first to call out religious extremism," he said. Isil’s propaganda channel said the group was behind the attack. "The perpetrator of the operation... in Melbourne... was an Islamic State fighter and carried out the operation... to target nationals of the coalition" fighting Isil, Amaq reported a jihadist security source as saying. Armed security personnel stand near the Bourke Street mall in central Melbourne Credit: AAP/James Ross/via REUTERS The attack began on Friday at about 4.30pm, as streams of people were shopping and heading home. Some pedestrians – including one with a shopping trolley, now labelled “trolley man” – tried to fend off the attacker. When police officers arrived, the attacker punched one through the car window and appeared to show little fear as he repeatedly tried to stab them. Some witnesses claimed the man, who was tall and wearing a long dark coat, was yelling “Allahu akbar”, though police said this was not confirmed. "He seemed to be waving something, people around me screamed that he had a knife," a witness told ABC News. "And then I heard one loud bang. It sounded like a gunshot.” Another witness, who was taking a stroll during a break from work, said: “It is a very strange thing to witness on the streets you walk everyday… People were quite scared. They wanted to know what was going on.” Melbourne attack: Bourke street Victoria Police’s Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said the man moved from Somalia to Melbourne’s north-west suburbs in the 1990s and was known to state and federal counterterrorism agencies through his “family associations”. “His family members are certainly known to us from a terrorism perspective,” he said. "From what we know of that individual, we are treating this as a terrorism incident." The scene of the attack in Melbourne on Friday Commissioner Ashton said the man had convictions for cannabis use, theft and driving offences but not for violent offences. He said there was not believed to be an ongoing threat. Melbourne has experienced numerous terror attacks and plots in recent years. In 2009, authorities conducted raids and charged five Somali Australian men in Melbourne suspected of terrorism offences. Three were later convicted of planning to attack an army barracks. Significant fire in Bourke Street - road blocked between Swanston and Russell Streets pic.twitter.com/H6xO1pzy5L— acuriouscook (@loumick3) November 9, 2018 Victoria’s state premier Daniel Andrews condemned the latest attack as an “act of evil” and pledged that the city would "go about our business this weekend and every weekend". “This is an evil, terrifying thing that's happened in our city and state today,” he said. “We condemn it… We'll not, as a city and a state, be defined by this act of evil.” The incident came as the trial began of James Gargasoulas, who is accused of killing six people on Bourke Street last year after allegedly deliberately ploughing through them with a car. Mr Gargasoulas, 28, who was in a drug-induced psychosis at the time, has pleaded not guilty. Police do not believe the attacks were linked.




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