Sydney Church Stabbing: Australian Police Classify Incident as Terrorist Act

Australian police have classified Monday’s stabbing incident at a Sydney church as a religiously motivated “terrorist act”.

Authorities arrested a 16-year-old boy following an attack on a bishop, a priest, and churchgoers during mass at the Assyrian Christ The Good Shepherd Church.

Police report that at least four individuals sustained “non-life-threatening” injuries, including the assailant himself.

The disturbing incident unfolded during a church livestream and promptly caused unrest in the Wakeley suburb.

Australian police have categorized Monday’s stabbing incident at a Sydney church as a case of religious extremism, falling under the definition of terror offences based on ideological motivation.

Investigations are ongoing, but authorities have confirmed that they are satisfied with the assessment of religious extremism in this case.

Despite this classification, officials have refrained from specifying the religion of the alleged attacker.

The church has identified the priest involved as Father Isaac Royel and the bishop as Mar Mari Emmanuel. Bishop Emmanuel, ordained in 2011, is a well-known and somewhat controversial figure, with his sermons attracting millions of views on social media platforms.

The dissemination of graphic videos depicting the attack and its aftermath rapidly circulated online on Monday night, inciting an angry response from hundreds of individuals who gathered at the Assyrian Orthodox Church, located approximately 35 kilometers southwest of the city center.

The crowd, angered by the incident, clashed violently with police officers stationed outside the church where the alleged attacker was detained.

Sydney church stabbing was a 'terrorist' attack, police say
The bishop was reportedly stabbed while giving a sermon that was being livestreamed

Two officers sustained injuries during the violent clashes, with one suffering a broken jaw after being struck by a brick and fence palings, while ten police cars were destroyed. Paramedics, fearing for their safety, remained inside the church for over three hours as the violence unfolded.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese swiftly convened an emergency meeting of national security agencies in response to the attack, describing it as “disturbing” and emphasizing that Australia is a peace-loving nation with no tolerance for violent extremism. He urged the public to refrain from taking matters into their own hands.

In a media briefing on Tuesday morning, New South Wales (NSW) Police Commissioner Karen Webb provided an update, revealing that the bishop and priest were undergoing surgery and emphasizing that they were fortunate to be alive.

Ms. Webb indicated that the teenager allegedly directed religiously centered comments towards the bishop as he approached, and police believe the attack during a livestreamed service was intended to intimidate both parishioners present and those watching online.

She confirmed that the suspect acted alone and, although known to police, was not on any terror watch list.

State premier Chris Minns later acknowledged reports that the teenager had prior knife-related charges and was found with a blade at school in 2020 during an interview with 2GB radio.

The alleged offender underwent surgery for injuries to his fingers; police stated it’s unclear whether the injuries occurred with his own weapon or during his apprehension by the congregation.

The incident occurred just days after the nation was shocked by a separate and unrelated stabbing at a popular Sydney shopping center, resulting in the deaths of seven individuals.



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