Church Stabbing Sparks Counter-Terrorism Raids Across Sydney

Seven teenagers were arrested by Australian police last Wednesday in a series of raids throughout Sydney prompted by the April 15 knife attack by a 16-year-old at an Assyrian Orthodox church.

The seven teens are all between 15 to 17 years old and are suspected of being part of the same violent extremist network as the suspect arrested in the church attack that left a bishop and priest injured.

According to New South Wales Deputy Police Commissioner David Hudson, due to the immediate threat to public safety, raids on 13 separate locations were conducted last Wednesday by more than 400 officers at properties in and around southwest Sydney.

Another five teenagers were detained for questioning by the members of the Joint Counter-Terrorism Team, a task force made up of federal and state law enforcement as well as the country’s domestic spy agency, the Australian Security Intelligence Organization.

Deputy Commissioner Hudson told reporters that all of the suspects allegedly adhere to “a religiously motivated, violent extremist ideology.” He said the extremist network was considered “an unacceptable risk” and a public threat, which was why the raids were carried out.

Deputy Commissioner Krissy Barrett of the Australian Federal Police said the raids had not turned up any evidence indicating specific targets or planned violent acts. She assured reporters that the raids had nothing to do with the Anzac Day holiday on April 25.

The 16-year-old suspect in the April 15 knife attack was charged on April 18 with committing a terrorist act, which carries a possible life sentence.

The knife attack on Christ the Good Shepherd Church occurred as the church was live-streaming its service. As a result, footage showing the stabbings subsequently went viral on social media, prompting the Australian eSafety Commission to order social media platforms to take the videos down.

While other social media companies, including TikTok, Snapchat, Microsoft, and Google all complied with the request, Elon Musk’s X platform refused.

An Australian judge ordered X Corp. to remove the footage from its platform and a federal judge later extended the order until May 10.

X Corp. announced that it would challenge the order in court.