Melbourne – Somali-born man who killed one person in Melbourne and wounded two others before being shot dead by the police, was known to intelligence services, who nevertheless considered him not a threat for national security, said Saturday an Australian counterterrorism officer.
The attack Friday by Hassan Khalif Shire Ali, 30, is considered by the Australian police as a terrorist act, and was claimed by the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group.
"We now treat this as a terrorist act"said Graham Ashton, the head of the Victoria State Police in southern Australia.
"Although he had radicalized views, the evaluation determined that he was not a threat to national security.said Ian McCartney, a counterterrorism officer.
"Knowing how and when he went from his radicalized views to the attack yesterday will be at the heart of the investigationsaid Mccartney.
The jihadist group EI claimed the attack through its propaganda agency Amaq.
"The author of the operation (…) in Melbourne (…) was a fighter of the Islamic State and led the operation in response to calls to target nationals of the member countries of the coalition"US-led international anti-jihadists," said Amaq.
The investigators initially stated that the man had no known connection to terrorism.
The police then explained that he had been known to the security services for three years and that he had arrived as a child in Australia with his family.
His Australian passport was revoked in 2015 because he was suspected of wanting to travel to Syria to join IS.
In addition, his brother will be tried next year on charges of wanting to obtain a firearm to commit a terrorist act.
During the attack, Hassan Khalif Shire Ali's 4×4 vehicle was filled with gas cylinders, the police said. Armed with a knife, the assailant killed one person and wounded two others before a police officer shot him in the chest.
According to witnesses, the man started attacking pedestrians near his burning pick-up that he had driven into the city center.
One person died on the scene. This is Sisto Malapina, 74, a well-known patron of an Italian restaurant in the metropolis of southern Australia.
Two other people were being treated for their injuries, the police said.
The attack occurred in the business district of Melbourne in the middle of the afternoon, as people began to leave work for the weekend.
On videos shot by witnesses, police officers try to stop the attacker without violence for at least a minute while the suspect rushes at them repeatedly, brandishing his weapon.
The tall man, dressed in a black tunic, makes reels with his arms trying to stab near the burning pickup.
Two passers-by try to help the police, one man armed with a coffee chair, while another, quickly dubbed "the Australian hero"on social networks, repeatedly tries to turn the abuser over with a supermarket shopping cart.
But the attack continues and after a while, a policeman uses his weapon and fires into the suspect's chest.
– Call for witnesses –
The police asked the population to avoid going to the area, but said they were not looking for other suspects.
The investigators also dispatched a team of deminers to secure the area and examine the burning vehicle.
"The exact circumstances still need to be determined", added the investigators by launching a call to witnesses.
British Prime Minister Theresa May assured Australia of her support in a message posted on Twitter.
Melbourne is the second largest city in Australia. It is a cosmopolitan metropolis of about five million people renowned for its cafes, bars and restaurants, as well as for its high standard of living.
The attack comes in full trial of a 28-year-old man, James Gargasoulas, who had sunk into the crowd aboard his vehicle in the same area of the city in 2017, killing six people. The reasons for this attack remain unclear.