Australian teen involved in deradicalization program fatally shot by police after stabbing man

May 7, 2024 by No Comments

A 16-year-old boy who was fatally shot by police after stabbing a man in the back in Perth had participated in a federally-funded program to counter violent extremism for two years but had no criminal record, authorities said. The boy had been involved in the program for deradicalization for two years but had no criminal history, said Western Australia Police Minister Paul Papalia on Monday. “The challenge we face with individuals like the 16-year-old in this incident is that he held views that are dangerous and potentially he could have been radicalized,” Papalia said. “But the problem with people like this is they can act quickly without warning and be very dangerous.” On the potential for the boy to have been radicalized, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he was concerned by extremist positions being pushed on social media. “It’s a dynamic that isn’t just an issue for government. It’s an issue for our entire society, whether it be violent extremism, misogyny and violence against women. It is an issue that of course I’m concerned about,” Albanese told reporters.

Western Australia Police Commissioner Col Blanch said the boy had phoned police late Saturday saying he was about to commit “acts of violence” but did not say where. Minutes later, a member of the public reported to police seeing the boy with a knife in a hardware store parking lot. Three police officers responded, one armed with a gun and two with stun guns. Police deployed both stun guns but they failed to subdue the boy before he was killed by a single gunshot, Blanch said. The stabbing victim is a man in his 30s who sustained a wound to his back. He was in serious but stable condition at a Perth hospital, police said.

Blanch said members of the local Muslim community had raised concerns with police about the boy’s behavior before he was killed on Saturday. The boy had said in a text message to associates, “I am going on the path of jihad tonight for the sake of Allah,” Australian Associated Press reported, prompting several to alert police. Police said the stabbing had occurred but have not declared it as such. Factors that can influence that decision include whether state police need federal resources, including the Australian Security Intelligence Organization domestic spy agency. Blanch said the Western Australia Police Force investigation did not need additional federal resources and he was confidence the situation was different from the one in Sydney.

“We are dealing with complex issues, both mental health issues but also online radicalization issues,” Blanch said Sunday. “But we believe he very much is acting alone and we do not have concerns at this time that there is an ongoing network or other concerns that might have been seen over in Sydney.” Western Australia Premier Roger Cook said his government and the state education department had been aware of concerns at the boy’s school about his behavior. Cook didn’t directly respond to reports that several boys at Rossmoyne Senior High School, the prestigious government school he attended, were attempting to radicalize classmates. “I’ll leave that up the the Education Department to clarify,” Cook told reporters. “This young man was harboring some extremist thoughts, which is the reason why he was part of the Countering Violent Extremism program.”