Alleged terror arrests.
The police raids and arrests involved more than 400 officers. Image by Nsw Police/AAP PHOTOS
  • crime, law and justice

Boys charged with terror offences, church rioter bailed

Luke Costin April 25, 2024

A 14-year-old is among five teenage boys charged with terrorism offences connected to the stabbing of an Orthodox Christian bishop at a western Sydney church.

The quintet were arrested during 13 raids at homes across Sydney and another at a Goulburn premises on Wednesday morning.

That followed a week-long investigation into a group allegedly adhering to religiously motivated violent extremist ideology.

Calls in the Muslim community are meanwhile growing for police and government to share intelligence to help weed out any extremist elements.

The police raids and arrests involved more than 400 officers.
 The police raids and arrests involved more than 400 officers. Image by Nsw Police/AAP PHOTOS 

NSW Police on Thursday said three of the five juveniles were charged with conspiring to engage in preparations for a terrorist act.

Two others, aged 14 and 17, were charged with possessing or controlling violent extremist material through a communication service.

Another boy remained in custody without charge on Thursday evening, 30 hours after the raids.

The police media unit said it did not have information on why the boy remained under arrest.

A seventh juvenile was released on Thursday pending further inquiries.

No specific targets were nominated by the group members but the ongoing threat and loose nature of the group, including some splinter groups, alarmed authorities.

They were allegedly connected to a 16-year-old boy charged with the terror-inspired stabbing of Assyrian bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel and priest Isaac Royel on April 15.

NSW Police are continuing to investigate the associates of the boy, who is alleged to have committed an act of terrorism.

The Lebanese Muslim Association on Thursday urged police to share intelligence to help stamp out any extremism in the community.

“Don’t treat us as your enemy, you’ve got to treat us as your partner in this,” secretary Gamel Kheir told Nine News.

The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils warned against speculation, which it said eroded trust and divides communities.

“We recognise that rumours swiftly emerge after such incidents. We reject trial by speculation,” President Rateb Jneid said.

The assault at Christ the Good Shepherd Church, during a livestreamed sermon, sparked a riot of more than 2000 people.

The search for the worst of the rioters continues with two men facing court on Thursday.

Leon Shemaon, a Fairfield man accused of rioting and trying to throw a missile at police, was bailed on seven conditions.

One mandates the 31-year-old not to contact anyone he knows was inside or outside the church on April 15.

A second alleged rioter was refused bail. Both men are due back in court on May 23.