Residents of a quiet suburban house had no idea a ISIS-inspired terrorist was lurking in their backyard plotting mass murder for the heart of Melbourne’s CBD.
Hassan Khalif Shire Ali, 30, is believed to have lived with his wife and young son in a bungalow at the back of the home in Meadow Heights for about a year before he went on a knife rampage through Bourke Street on Friday.
The Somali immigrant mounted the kerb on the busy shopping strip about 4.20pm before setting the car on fire and stabbing three men, one fatally, before being shot dead by police.
Counter-terrorism officers raided the house on Pinnaroo Circuit on Saturday morning, along with that of Ali’s father in Werribee on the other side of Melbourne.
The young family who lived in the main home were said to be oblivious to what was going on in the bungalow neighbours said was often rented out.
Police say Khalif (pictured) was a ‘person of interest’ due to relatives’ potential links to extremist groups
A knifeman stabbed a shopper to death on Melbourne’s Bourke Street Mall and injured two others. A body was seen lying on the street covered in a white sheet
Khalif, who also goes by the name Hassan Shire, was rushed to hospital on Friday in a critical condition but later died from gun wounds.
Video shot from the scene showed the frenzied attack that carried on for more than a minute, beginning with Khalif charging at two police officers, punching one through a vehicle window and lunging at them with a knife.
The Islamic State have claimed the attack as their own via the propaganda platform, releasing a statement saying ‘the perpetrator of the operation… in Melbourne… was an Islamic State fighter and carried out the operation… to target nationals of the coalition’ fighting IS, Amaq reported, allegedly quoting a jihadist security source.
ISIS have previously claimed responsibility for attacks that were later discovered to be unrelated to the organisation.
Khalif’s passport was cancelled several years ago after he was noted as one of 300 potential security risks.
It was also noted police are unable to get in contact with Khalif’s wife and believe she is both missing and radicalised.
Authorities may be hoping to utilise the state’s preventative detention laws for the first time since they came into effect, in which police are legally allowed to detain a suspect for up to seven days should they believe the person poses a threat or security risk, Herald Sun reported.
Video showed a man wielding a knife attempt to stab and slash at two police officers before he was shot and fell to the ground, and also a brave shopper try to hit him with a trolley
The officers then retreated to the other side of the road as the bearded attacker with a shaved head and dressed in a long brown tunic, pursued them as horrified bystanders called on police to shoot him
Khalif chased the officers around a tree as they tried to avoid his blows and convince the man to surrender, and a brave bystander tried to stop the attack by running him down with a shopping trolley.
The officers then retreated to the other side of the road as the bearded attacker with a shaved head and dressed in a long brown tunic pursued them as horrified bystanders begged police to shoot him.
Khalif again attempted to stab and slash at the officers several times before one policeman unsuccessfully tried to taser him.
His partner then shot the assailant in the chest.
The knifeman clutched his chest and and fell to the ground where he was quickly arrested on the pavement by two plain clothing officers and rushed to hospital under police guard, where he later died on the operating table.
The man was quickly arrested on the pavement by two officers in front of shocked pedestrians who stood back to film it
His possible links to known terror plotters and extremist elements of the North African community in Australia are being investigated.
Khalif moved to Australia from Somalia in the 1990s, Victoria Police commissioner Graham Ashton said, and had a record of ‘minor’ offences in relation to ‘cannabis use, theft and driving offences’.
Mr Ashton was asked about reports from eyewitnesses that Khalif screamed ‘Alluha Akhbar’ as he chased pedestrians, to which he could not confirm.
‘He is known to police and is known mainly in respect to relatives he has that are certainly persons of interest.’
Victoria Police commissioner Graham Ashton and Premier Daniel Andrews spoke at a press conference after the attack
Two victims lie on the ground in pools of blood after being stabbed by the knifeman in the street, as bystanders rush to their aid
Witnesses said the car hit a pedestrian as it mounted the kerb outside Target near the Swanson Street intersection about 4.20pm on Friday
Witnesses described a chaotic scene with an injured pedestrian lying on the ground, and numerous police cars and helicopters flying overhead.
‘Police response was swift and overwhelming. I heard at least one gunshot initially,’ one said.
Another said they heard ‘what sounded like a bomb and gun shot’.
‘Roads are blocked and police advising to stay away from Bourke St. Feels like de ja vu,’ they said, referring to the car attack on Bourke Street Mall last year that killed six people.
Panicked pedestrians ran in all directions away from the scene, some hiding in nearby cafes and shops, locking themselves in back rooms.
The area was locked down and the public shooed away while stores including Myer, Target, and David Jones evacuated and the bomb squad was called in to assess the car.
The burned-out car sitting where it crashed on to the pavement and exploded before the rampage began
The area was locked down with the public shooed away and stores including Myer, Target, and David Jones evacuated and the bomb squad called in to assess the car
Police are asking people to avoid the area and said more information would be given when it was available
Another bystander said they heard ‘what sounded like a bomb and gun shot’ during the attack
Warnings blared from the newly-installed terror warning loudspeakers for the first time, saying: ‘This is Victoria Police, please evacuate the area. This is Victoria Police, please evacuate the area.’
The fire was brought under control within about five minutes, a Metropolitan Fire Brigade spokeswoman said.
The fire brigade initially discovered ‘BBQ style gas cylinders’ inside the vehicle, but the bomb squad ‘rendered them useless’ shortly thereafter.
Police are asking people to avoid the area, saying the streets may be blocked off until as late as 8am Saturday morning.
Witnesses said the Holden Rodeo hit a pedestrian as it mounted the kerb and burst into flames outside Target near the Swanson Street intersection about 4.20pm on Friday, before the stabbing rampage began
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