Seven teenagers arrested as part of Sydney bishop stabbing investigation

The seven were part of a network that included the 16-year-old boy accused of the knife attack in Sydney last week.

The incident took place on April 15 at Christ the Good Shepherd church (AP)
The incident took place on April 15 at Christ the Good Shepherd church (AP) (Mark Baker/AP)

Australian police have arrested seven teenagers accused of following a violent extremist ideology in raids across Sydney to protect the community from a potential attack, officials said.

The seven, aged 15 to 17, were part of a network that included a 16-year-old boy accused of the stabbing of a bishop in a Sydney church on April 15, police said.

Five other teenagers are still being questioned by the Joint Counter-Terrorism Team, which includes federal and state police as well as the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the nation’s main domestic spy agency, and the New South Wales Crime Commission, which specialises in extremists and organised crime.

More than 400 police officers executed 13 search warrants at properties across south-west Sydney because the suspects were considered an immediate threat, New South Wales Police Deputy Commissioner David Hudson said.

“We will allege that these individuals adhered to a religiously motivated, violent extremist ideology,” Mr Hudson told reporters.

Counter-terror police are involved in the investigation (AP)
Counter-terror police are involved in the investigation (AP) (Mark Baker/AP)

He added: “It was considered that the group … posed an unacceptable risk and threat to the people of New South Wales, and our current purely investigative strategies could not adequately ensure public safety.”

Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Krissy Barrett said investigators found no evidence of specific targets or timing of an intended “violent act”.

She said the police operation was not linked to Anzac Day on Thursday, a public holiday when Australians remember their war dead.

It has been a potential target of extremists in the past.

A 16-year-old was charged on Friday with committing a terrorist act, a crime that carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, following the knife attack in which an Assyrian Orthodox bishop and priest were injured.

An Australian Federal Court judge has extended an order banning social media platform X from showing videos of the bishop being repeatedly stabbed.

Justice Geoffrey Kennett extended the ban, which the court put in place on Monday, until May 10.

X, formerly called Twitter, announced last week it would fight in court Australian orders to take down posts relating to the attack.

The accused teenager allegedly spoke in Arabic about the Prophet Muhammad being insulted after he stabbed Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel and the Rev Isaac Royel in the Christ the Good Shepherd Church as a service was being streamed online.