Teen Charged With Terrorism in Sydney Church Stabbing

Injured bishop says he forgives attacker
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 19, 2024 4:53 AM CDT
Teen Charged With Terrorism in Sydney Church Stabbing
Police patrol outside the Christ the Good Shepherd church in suburban Wakely in western Sydney, Australia, Tuesday, April 16, 2024.   (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

A 16-year-old boy accused of stabbing two Christian clerics during a Sydney church service has been charged by police with terrorism offenses. Authorities said the stabbing was declared a terrorist act because of the teenager's suspected religious motivation and because the boy traveled up to 90 minutes from his home to the Christ the Good Shepherd Church in Sydney's western suburbs, the AP reports. The teen, whose age was initially reported as 15, spoke in Arabic about the Prophet Muhammad being insulted after he stabbed Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel and the Rev. Isaac Royel during Monday night's Assyrian Orthodox service. He was later overpowered by parishioners, sustaining severe hand injuries.

"Yesterday investigators attended a medical facility to interview the alleged offender where he was charged with committing a terrorist act," said Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw at a press conference Friday in Sydney. The offense carries a maximum penalty of imprisonment for life. The matter was heard at a Sydney children's court on Friday. The juvenile, who is not being named, did not appear via video link from his hospital bed and did not apply for bail at the brief hearing. The teen has a history of knife-related offenses and had seen three psychologists and a school counselor, and had an appointment to see a psychiatrist, his lawyer said during Friday's court hearing.

The magistrate made a recommendation for the boy to have a mental health assessment while in custody. The boy's family had previously said the 16-year-old might have "anger management and behavioral issues" and a "short fuse," but had shown no signs of being radicalized. A crowd of up to 600 people converged on the church after the attack, some demanding that police hand over the boy. Hours of rioting led to 51 police officers being injured. Sydney mosques also received firebomb threats. The bishop released an audio statement Thursday saying that he was "doing fine, recovering very quickly" and that he forgave his attacker.

(More Australia stories.)

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