Wakeley church attack: Audio message sign of community’s concern about alleged attacker’s extreme views

The Nightly
2 Min Read
Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was attacked in a stabbing frenzy.
Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was attacked in a stabbing frenzy. Credit: X formerly Twitter

Concern about the teenager who allegedly stabbed an orthodox Assyrian bishop had been swirling within Sydney’s Muslim community in the weeks leading up to the attack.

Community leaders were reportedly worried about the 16-year-old’s “extreme religious views” before the attack on Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel and a priest at the Christ The Good Shepherd Assyrian church in Wakeley on Monday night.

An audio message shared to WhatsApp groups in the hours after the attack — which happened as the bishop delivered a sermon that was being live-streamed around the world — of a man who claimed to have prayed with the teen earlier in the day appears to confirm that concern.

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The man reportedly says, “Sadly, sadly, sadly, that kid we prayed Dhuhr (prayer) with today,” the man said. “These kids have been poisoned by a monster ... this kid has been poisoned.”

He then names the teen, according to The Daily Telegraph.

The teenager was restrained by parishioners after the alleged attack.
The teenager was restrained by parishioners after the alleged attack. Credit: X formerly Twitter

It is also understood that in the moments after the alleged attacker began his stabbing frenzy and was then restrained by parishioners, he said in Arabic to those standing over him words translated to: “If he didn’t swear at my Prophet I wouldn’t be here. If he didn’t involve himself in my religion I wouldn’t be here”.

The teen’s alleged attack has been declared an act of terror, prompting Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to convene the national security committee in the hours after NSW Police and the AFP confirmed they were treating the attack as terror-related.

NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb said the teen’s alleged actions had a degree of premeditation, including that he had attended the church with a knife.

ASIO is supporting the police investigation and is investigating whether or not the alleged attacker acted alone.

“We support the NSW Government and the police for calling this a terrorist incident,” ASIO chief Mike Burgess said.

“It does appear to be religiously motivated but we continue our lines of investigation. At the same time, our job is to look at individuals connected with the attacker to assure ourselves there’s no one else in the community with similar intent.

“At this stage, we have no indications of that.”

Reports emerged on Tuesday that the accused teenager, who cannot be identified due to his age, was on a good behaviour bond and appeared in court last November over charges of possessing a knife, stalking and intimidation, and property damage.

The teenager remains in hospital for treatment of severe hand injuries and at the time of publication had not been charged.

Bishop Emmanuel and the injured priest are both still in hospital in a stable condition.

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