After initially discounting any connection to terrorism, officials investigating a car ramming that took place in Melbourne, Australia on Thursday are now considering that the Afghani driver who plowed into a crowd, injuring 14, may have been motivated by Islamist motivations.
At around 5:00 PM, a 32-year-old man drove his white Suzuki SUV into a crowded sidewalk in what police described as “a deliberate act”. The police arrested the driver, who came to Australia through government refugee programs.
Another man who was filming the attack was discovered to have a bag full of knives. He was charged with drugs and weapons possession and released.
— 7 News Sydney (@7NewsSydney) December 21, 2017
“We believe based on what we have seen that it is a deliberate act. The motivations are unknown,” Victoria Police’s Commander Russell Barrett told reporters in Melbourne. The assailant was known to police on “historical assault matters” and reportedly had a history of drug use, leading police to discount terror as the motive behind the attack.
“At this time we do not have any evidence or intelligence to indicate a connection with terrorism,” Barrett told reporters in Melbourne.
On Friday, the police modified their statement, announcing to the media that terrorism was now being considered as a motive.
“He made some utterances in respect of a number of matters,” acting Chief Commissioner Shane Patton told Australia’s Channel Nine television network. “He spoke of dreams and voices but also attributed some of his activities as well due to the mistreatment of Muslims.”
“We haven’t identified any extremist links with this man,” Patton added. “We haven’t identified him linked to any groups. We haven’t identified anyone inciting him to do any actions, or any prior extremist activities prior to those utterances last night.”
A similar attack in Melbourne last January killed six people and injured at least 30 more. The perpetrator, Dimitrious Gargasoulas, was of Greek-Tongan descent and a Muslim. He also had a history of violence and mental disturbances. The incident was not classified as terrorism.
Source: Israel in the News