Church Stabbing in Sydney by 16-Year-Old Declared a Terrorist Attack

Police in New South Wales said last week’s knife attack during a Sydney church service that wounded a bishop and priest was an act of terrorism, the Associated Press reported.

According to Karen Webb, the New South Wales Police Commissioner, the comments made by the 16-year-old suspect indicated there was a religious motivation behind the attack at the Christ the Good Shepherd Church in the Sydney suburb of Wakeley.

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel and Fr. Isaac Royel were both injured in the attack but were expected to recover.

Webb said there appeared to be a “degree of premeditation” on the part of the suspect who does not reside in the area.

While the teenager was known to police, Webb said he was not on a terrorist watch list.

The Security Intelligence Organization, Australia’s domestic spy agency, and the country’s Federal Police have set up a joint counter-terrorism task force with New South Wales Police to investigate the incident to determine if others could be involved.

Mike Burgess, the director-general of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization said that while the attack appeared to be “religiously motivated,” no similar threats had been uncovered as yet.

Worshippers at the Wakeley Orthodox Assyrian church watched during the April 15 evening service as the teen, dressed in black, approached the altar and stabbed Bishop Emmanuel and Father Royel before worshippers intervened.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that last Monday’s stabbing prompted a riot outside of the church in which over 50 officers were injured.

The outlet also reported that the teenager had previously been convicted of multiple offenses including possession of a switchblade, intimidation, and property damage in connection to a November 2023 incident at a train station in Sydney. The teen was released on bond in January after his case was “proven” but dismissed for good behavior.

The teen also used a switchblade in last Monday’s attack. Switchblades are illegal in Australia.