Wannabes may see Naider’s actions as glamorous, expert warns.
Calling a stabbing of two police officers a terrorist act could make it more appealing to wannabe warriors, an expert warns.
Abdul Numan Haider, 18, stabbed two police officers outside a Melbourne police station before being shot dead on Tuesday night.
Dr Shakira Hussein, a lecturer on Islam and gender at Melbourne University, said governments and police should be careful not to label the attack until all the facts were clear. "Labelling something a terrorist attack might make it seem more sinister in the eyes of many, but it also inflates it," Hussein said. "For people who are looking to be important, and are looking to be part of something big, that makes it more appealing rather than less."
Haider had his passport cancelled a week before the attack, and he had been seen with an Isis flag at a Melbourne shopping centre.
Hussein said that after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996, mental health experts said focusing on shooter Martin Bryant rather than the victims was counterproductive. "I think that might be even more the case for these kinds of acts. People want to see themselves as a warrior," Hussein said.
Professor Greg Barton, director of the Global Terrorism Research Centre at Monash University, said this week's attack was a level above what Australia had seen before. "We certainly face the unwelcome reality that we've moved into a different kind of threat environment. It's an evolution of a threat environment we've been familiar with for some time, but it's energised and accelerated by what's happening in Iraq, Syria."
Victoria Police chief commissioner Ken Lay has dismissed media speculation the 18-year-old intended to behead the officers and wrap them in an Isis flag. "There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that I'm aware of that would suggest that was the intention," he told ABC radio. "Having said that, there were some really worrying pieces about this young man's behaviour that we are working through. But it's not helpful to be making these great leaps based on speculation."
Lay said Haider was talking to others at the time or just before he attacked the officers and was fatally shot outside the Endeavour Hills police station but it is not clear whether they were with him.
Police say the police officer had no other choice but to shoot after the teen repeatedly stabbed an officer and the senior constable who shot him.
A second knife was found on Haider's body.
Lay said he understood police did not have a warrant to search Haider's house earlier in the day but were allowed in by another resident.
Muslim preacher Junaid Thorne said on Facebook Haider was angered by the visit. "According to his friends, he received a call from his parents informing him that the police had been in the house and searched his room. Upon hearing this, the young boy got mad and called up the local police station, questioning why his privacy had been violated ... and this lead (sic) to an argument with them on the phone."
Lay said he had no information Haider was in contact with Isis leadership outside Australia. Prime Minister Tony Abbott also played down media reports Haider made terrorist threats against him."I haven't been officially briefed to that effect."