Police Investigate Possible Act of Terrorism After Multiple Stabbings in Sydney CBD

By Richard Szabo
Richard Szabo
Richard Szabo
Richard Szabo is an award-winning journalist with more than 12 years' experience in news writing at mainstream and niche media organizations. He has a specialty in business, tourism, hospitality, and healthcare reporting.
August 13, 2019 Updated: August 13, 2019

Authorities are examining a variety of factors that led to several people being stabbed in downtown Sydney on Aug. 13.

The New South Wales Police Terrorism Investigation Squad is assisting homicide detectives in trying to determine whether Mert Ney, 20, committed a possible act of terrorism when he allegedly stabbed multiple people.

“We have not discounted any links to any groups,” NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller told a Sydney press conference that was broadcast live by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation the morning after the attack. “It is my job to stop the next attack, whether it is a terrorist attack or a lone person.”

According to a police statement, Ney fatally stabbed a 24-year-old woman inside a Clarence Street building before making his way to King Street where he allegedly stabbed another 41-year-old woman in the back shoulder.

Police and NSW Ambulance paramedics assisted the 41-year-old woman inside the Hotel CBD before she was transported to St Vincent’s Hospital where she remains in a stable condition.

“She was very lucky to be alive, the fact she is alive is a miracle,” Fuller told reporters.

Officers confirmed the 24-year-old had suffered a laceration to the neck and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Surveillance footage shows the suspect entering the woman’s unit at about 1:30 p.m. and leaving the building 20 minutes later. Officers are stumped by Ney’s apparent lack of a clear motive behind the stabbings and are investigating whether he had mental health challenges.

“He has killed a 24-year-old woman for no reason, and [then] stabbed a woman in her 40s,” Fuller said. “[For] anyone who commits an act of mass killing, how could he not have a mental condition?”

The Guardian reported video footage has emerged of the 20-year-old yelling “Allahu Akbar (god is the greatest)” and “shoot me in the f–ing head” to bystanders as he wandered the streets before bystanders apprehended him.

Fuller acknowledged that Ney had “some ideologies in relation to terrorism” and officers found some worrying material on a USB drive they found after searching the man, according to the Guardian.

“There was certainly information found on him about other crimes of mass casualties and mass deaths around the world,” he said according to the Guardian.

The suspect also had no serious criminal history, with only some minor theft and a domestic violence incident on his record.

“If you look at his spreadsheet from a criminal perspective it remains unremarkable,” Fuller said. “That is not unusual in terms of what we see in houses throughout NSW … I have seen kids at the Police Citizens Youth Club with a worse criminal record than him.”

Officers have searched two western Sydney properties at Marayong and Blacktown and seized electronic devices for forensic analysis.

Police are now trying to use mobile phone records, social media activity, and city surveillance footage to recreate the suspect’s movements in the 24 hours leading up to the stabbings.

“If anyone has seen something suspicious, or saw he went to a place of worship please come forward,” Fuller said.

The suspect reached Wynyard Street where bystanders made a citizen’s arrest, using a table, chair and milk crate from a nearby cafe to subdue him until police arrived just after 2 p.m. local time. Officers confiscated a kitchen knife from the 20-year-old.

The suspect was transported to Day Street Police Station and later Royal Prince Alfred Hospital where he remained under police guard while health professionals performed surgery on a laceration to his knee. Investigators were waiting for the suspect to be medically fit before questioning him at the time of publication.

The Guardian speculated Ney will be charged with murder and serious assault.

NSW Police and Emergency Services Minister David Elliott commended the heroism of those locals who risked their own safety to prevent more people from being stabbed.

“We saw Sydney at its best,” Elliott told the press conference. “I would like to think any Sydneysider would act in the same way.”

The minister also commended police on quickly responding to the scene and promised authorities would try to avoid a repeat incident.

“We want to make sure we learn any lessons that need to be learned from this incident,” Elliott said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison expressed his deep concern about the incident and condolences for the victims and their loved ones.

“The attacker is now in police custody following the brave actions of those who were present at the scene and were able to able to restrain him,” the PM said on Twitter. “Our thoughts are with all those who have been impacted by this violent attack.”

Police are appealing for witnesses to come forward. In particular they are seeking security surveillance, dashcam and mobile phone footage.

Investigators have asked for any relevant CCTV, dashcam footage, and mobile phone videos recorded from the incident to be provided as soon as possible to police by phoning 1800 333 000 or visiting nsw.crimestoppers.com.au

Richard Szabo
Richard Szabo
Richard Szabo is an award-winning journalist with more than 12 years' experience in news writing at mainstream and niche media organizations. He has a specialty in business, tourism, hospitality, and healthcare reporting.