A Somali-born man who set fire to a truck laden with gas cylinders in the center of Melbourne and fatally stabbed one person was inspired by Islamic State but did not have direct links with the group, Australian police said on Saturday.
Police identified the man responsible for Friday’s attack as 30-year-old Hassan Khalif Shire Ali and said he was radicalized and inspired by the militant group’s propaganda. He was shot by police and died in hospital.
Police said Shire Ali’s Australian passport was canceled in 2015 after an intelligence report he planned to travel to Syria, but an assessment was made that while he had radical views, he posed no threat to national security.
Islamic State had claimed responsibility for the attack, which came two days before Remembrance Day, marking 100 years since the end of World War One, without providing any evidence.
“I think it is fair to say he (Shire Ali) was inspired. He was radicalized,” Australian Federal Police Acting Deputy Commissioner Ian McCartney told reporters in Melbourne.
“We’re not saying there was direct contact. We’re saying it was more from an inspiration perspective.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the national terrorism advisory remained at “probable”, the midpoint of a five-tier system, and told reporters in Sydney that radical Islam was the issue.
“I need to call it out. Radical, violent, extremist Islam that opposes our very way of life. I am the first to protect religious freedom in this country, but that also means I must be the first to call out religious extremism,” he said.