A police officer coming face-to-face with terrorist Hassan Shire Ali on Bourke St.Source:Supplied
A police officer coming face-to-face with terrorist Hassan Shire Ali on Bourke St.Source:Supplied

New details of terror attacker’s troubled life emerge

HOME Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has pleaded with Australians to help close a "black spot" in the country's ability to detect terror threats in the wake of the Bourke Street attack.

"There is a real black spot for us, and that is a vulnerabilty," Mr Dutton admitted today, citing comments from Duncan Lewis, the Director-General of Security at ASIO, who said potential terrorists were using encrypted apps so their messages couldn't be discovered.

"It is even more difficult today than it was five or ten years ago to try to deal with some of these cases," Mr Dutton said.

"The police can't contemplate every circumstance.

"Where you have someone who is buying chemicals, importing or purchasing online different items that might be precursors to make up an explosive device, you would expect there to be intelligence around that activity.

"Where you have someone who picks up a kitchen knife and grabs a couple of gas bottles and drives into the CBD, these are very difficult circumstances to stop."

On Friday afternoon, 30-year-old Hassan Khalif Shire Ali pulled up in Bourke Street in a four-wheel drive, containing gas cylinders turned to their open position, in what police said was a failed plan to cause an explosion.

The Somalia-born Ali then stabbed three men, including the popular 74-year-old Italian restaurateur Sisto Malaspina, who died at the scene. The two other victims are now recovering in Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Police had no proof Ali was planning an attack beforehand.

A police officer coming face-to-face with terrorist Hassan Shire Ali on Bourke St.Source:Supplied
A police officer coming face-to-face with terrorist Hassan Shire Ali on Bourke St.Source:Supplied

Mr Dutton did not reveal why Ali's passport was revoked in 2015, saying only that he had been spoken to by ASIO and other agencies and there was "no evidence" an attack was imminent.

"The judgement made about this individual was that he was not in the planning stage of the attack," he said.

The Home Affairs Minister indicated it was critical for Australians to report suspicious activity, to help authorities compensate for the "black spot".

"Unless there's advice, as I say, from a community member or from a family member, or there's advice as the result of a surveillance process or intercept of a telecommunications device, then it is very, very difficult," Mr Dutton said.

"My plea is to people within particularly the Islamic community, but across society. If you have information, if you see a behaviour of an individual or family member, someone in a workplace, that causes you concern, provide that information.

"It may lead to somebody not going to Bourke Street Mall or not committing an offence that results in loss of life.

"There may be no phone call. There may be no advice or planning or purchasing of particular precursors to make an improvised explosive device. So again, we need to be realistic about this.

"That is why it is important for us to get as much information from the imams, from spouses, from family members, community members, council workers, people that might be interacting with those that might have changed their behaviours."

ATTACKER'S SCARY 'DELUSIONS'

We are gradually learning more about the troubled life of the Bourke Street terror attacker, Hassan Khalif Shire Ali.

The Age reports Ali had grown increasingly "delusional" in the weeks before his deadly rampage in Melbourne.

Isse Musse, an imam and friend of Ali's family, has told the newspaper Ali was "complaining he was being chased by unseen people with spears".

Another source said his life had "spun out of control" as he dealt with mental health and substance abuse problems.

Ali had been kicked out of the family home several times. Less than a week before the attack he was seen "storming out" of the property and appeared "agitated".

The Sunday Herald Sun reports he had recently split from his wife.

A Facebook photo of Hassan Khalif Shire Ali.Source:Supplied
A Facebook photo of Hassan Khalif Shire Ali.Source:Supplied

JUNIOR POLICE OFFICER'S HEROICS

On Friday afternoon, the 30-year-old Ali pulled up in Bourke Street in his four-wheel drive containing gas cylinders turned to their open position, in what police said was a failed plan to cause an explosion.

The Somalia-born Ali then stabbed three men, including the popular 74-year-old Italian restaurateur Sisto Malaspina, who died at the scene. The two other victims are now recovering in Royal Melbourne Hospital.

During the attack, police and civilians tried to subdue Ali before a new police member, only three months out of the academy, shot him in the chest. Ali died in hospital.

Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton was full of praise for the officer, as well as another junior policeman who was on the scene.

"These members found themselves in a dangerous situation very quickly," Mr Ashton said.

"They acted very bravely. They endeavoured to do their job and they did that pretty effectively and bravely. They followed their training really well (and) I'm proud of their efforts."

Mr Ashton said police were trained to kill if they believed their life or a member of the public's life was at risk.

"We don't train people to wound people with firearms," he said.

"You're trained to shoot to kill, not to shoot to wound."

He said the two junior officers were "in good spirits although shaken up".

ALI 'INSPIRED' BY ISLAMIC STATE

Australian Federal Police acting Deputy Commissioner Ian McCartney told reporters on Saturday that Ali was known to have held radical views and that his passport was cancelled in 2015.

He said it was believed Shire Ali was "inspired" by Islamic State rather than having direct links with the organisation.

"The assessment was that person was not a threat at that time," Mr McCartney said.

"Obviously, a focus of the investigation will be ... how and why and when and where he moved along that path of radicalisation."

Police confirmed in a statement that joint counter terrorism team investigators executed search warrants at two addresses in Werribee and Meadows Heights on Saturday morning.

The man confronts police in Bourke St this afternoon. Source: Chris Macheras.
The man confronts police in Bourke St this afternoon. Source: Chris Macheras.

Premier Daniel Andrews said he had been briefed by police and intelligence agencies, including ASIO.

"This person (the attacker) was as much on a list because of his familial connections and others that he associated with as he was for any conduct that he had been involved in," he said.

"No history of violent offending, and I wouldn't go any further than that." Mr Andrews said he had not received any advice that security measures in Bourke Street and surrounds needed to be boosted.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Ali had violated the nation's trust.

"The greatest threat of religious extremism in this country is the radical and dangerous ideology of extremist Islam," he said.

Mr Morrison said Ali was one of about 400 people on a national ASIO terror watch list.

"Here in Australia we would be kidding ourselves if we did not call out the fact that the greatest threat of religious extremism in this country is the radical and dangerous ideology of extremist Islam," Mr Morrison said.

"There is a special responsibility on religious leaders to protect their religious communities and to ensure dangerous teachings and ideologies do not take root here."

COFFEE ICON'S FINAL MOMENTS

The death of Melbourne coffee icon

Nino Pangrazio and his partner Sisto Malaspina.
Nino Pangrazio and his partner Sisto Malaspina.

has rocked the community.

The Herald Sun reports a former nurse performed CPR on Mr Malaspina at the scene in a desperate attempt to save his life. But he had lost too much blood through his stab wound.

"I know I did everything I could to try and save this poor man," she said.

"I had to wipe the blood off his brow. I needed to give him that dignity because his face was so kind."

The woman told him: "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. At least you are now at peace."

Staff at Pellegrini's Espresso Bar, a well-known cafe Mr Malaspina had owned for over 40 years, have been in mourning since the incident.

The 74-year-old took over the coffee bar in 1974 and maintained the tradition of the original owners. The popular establishment is well-known for its traditional Italian cooking and longstanding menu.

"Pellegrini's was the number one in the way it did things, the way things should be done - fresh ingredients, taken from the growers to the market to the shop," Mr Malaspina told Hospitality Magazine last year.

 

"Everything done by hand. No mechanisation, no additives. Everything was simple, fresh and beautifully put together.

"And it hasn't changed at all. It's still the same menu, prepared in the same way. Slow cooking, no machinery, done by hand … This is the way food should be done. It's not contemporary food. It's secular, traditional, home cooking."

The surviving 58-year-old victim has been named as Rod Patterson, a businessman from Tasmania. In a tweet, Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman praised him for his bravery, saying "a nicer bloke you wouldn't meet".

His wife Maree posted on Facebook that Rod was "doing OK given the circumstances".

"Unfortunately we got caught up in the attack in Bourke Street this afternoon and Rodney was hurt - good news is he is in a great hospital and doing OK given the circumstances - can't take calls at the moment but will speak to everyone when I can," she wrote.

"Thanks to everyone for their wishes and caring."

The 26-year-old victim, who was a security guard, has not been named publicly.

An Ambulance Victoria spokesperson earlier revealed that one of the survivors sustained a neck injury and the other, a head injury.

Police officers also received minor injuries, one of them from being punched, and some cuts and scratches.

HEROIC 'TROLLEY MAN' SPEAKS OUT

THE "trolley man" who was hailed a hero on social media for taking on a terrorist has revealed what happened during the deadly terror attack in Melbourne yesterday.

The man attempted to help police officers stop the terrorist - who had already killed one person and injured another two - by rolling a shopping trolley in his path. He was one of two bystanders who stepped in as killer Hassan Khalif Shire Ali tried to claim more victims.

"Trolley man" today spoke to 7 News, who didn't identify him, and told the network he believes he helped save lives by defending the city.

"I've seen the trolley to the side so I've picked it up and I ran, threw the trolley straight at him, got him, but didn't get him down," he said.

"I did that motion quite a number of times but it just wasn't getting him down."

The attacker, from Melbourne's northwestern suburbs, was soon shot in the chest by police, before he died in hospital last night.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Somali-born Bourke Street terrorist had violated the nation's trust - saying "the greatest threat of religious extremism in this country is the radical and dangerous ideology of extremist Islam".

Mr Morrison said Somali-born killer Hassan Khalif Shire Ali was one of about 400 people on a national ASIO terror watch list.

"Here in Australia we would be kidding ourselves if we did not call out the fact that the greatest threat of religious extremism in this country is the radical and dangerous ideology of extremist Islam," Mr Morrison said.

"There is a special responsibility on religious leaders to protect their religious communities and to ensure dangerous teachings and ideologies do not take root here."

The Bourke Street knifeman was not actively monitored prior to his stabbing frenzy, despite the fact intelligence agencies cancelled his passport three years ago.

In a press conference today, Victoria Police confirmed Somali-born killer Hassan Khalif Shire Ali had been known to intelligence agencies for years, but he was not being actively monitored prior to the attack.

They said his passport was cancelled in 2015 after ASIO determined he was planning to travel to Syria.

Despite this, Shire Ali was not kept under close watch. "He was never a target of the JCTT in terms of the investigations we undertook," said Commissioner Ian McCartney. "The assessment was made that while he had radicalised views he didn't pose a threat to the national security environment.

Car on fire in Bourke St Mall. Source: @Meegslouise
Car on fire in Bourke St Mall. Source: @Meegslouise

"Obviously, the circumstances of how and when he moved from having these radicalised views to carrying them out will be a key focus of the investigation we undertake."

He said the tragedy yesterday was a "reality check".

"Even with the fall of the caliphate in the conflict zone, the threat continues to be real," the commissioner said. "But this is a complex and challenging business."

Officers did note that, when a person's passport is cancelled due to being a potential terror risk, there are "ongoing daily, weekly and monthly reviews" in relation to the individual.

But the commissioner repeatedly stressed that when ASIO cancelled Shire Ali's passport in 2015, the attacker "was not a threat at that time".

Officials said the current threat had been mitigated and they do not believe any related individuals - including the attacker's wife, who police have spoken to - pose a terror threat.

On Saturday afternoon, the Herald Sun revealed incredible new footage of the moment police were forced to shoot Ali.

Car horns are blaring and people can be heard yelling "shoot him" as the officers back away from the knife-wielding man.

MELBOURNE COFFEE ICON KILLED IN ATTACK

Melbourne coffee icon Sisto Malaspina has been identified as the murdered victim in Bourke Street's terror attack yesterday.

Staff at Pellegrini's Espresso Bar, a well-known cafe Mr Malaspina had owned for over 40 years, have been in mourning since the incident, The Herald Sun reports.

The 74-year-old took over the coffee bar in 1974 and maintained the tradition of the original owners. The popular establishment is well-known for its traditional Italian cooking and longstanding menu.

Police are expected to confirm his identity later this afternoon.

Sisto (middle) pictured with his business partner Nino Pangrazio outside the cafe in 2010.
Sisto (middle) pictured with his business partner Nino Pangrazio outside the cafe in 2010.

"Pellegrini's was the number one in the way it did things, the way things should be done - fresh ingredients, taken from the growers to the market to the shop. Everything done by hand. No mechanisation, no additives. Everything was simple, fresh and beautifully put together," Malaspina told Hospitality Magazine last year.

"And it hasn't changed at all. It's still the same menu, prepared in the same way. Slow cooking, no machinery, done by hand … This is the way food should be done. It's not contemporary food. It's secular, traditional, home cooking."

POLICE STORM KNIFEMAN'S FAMILY HOME

Police have surrounded a house linked to Hassan Khalif Shire Ali, the man behind yesterday's Melbourne terror attack.

Officers have been standing guard at the Werribee home since around 8am this morning, The Herald Sun reports.

It's understood the attacker's family are inside the house and are co-operating with police.

BOURKE ST KILLER IDENTIFIED

VICTORIA Police have identified the Bourke Street knifeman as Mohamed Khalif.

The 31-year-old Somali-born attacker, from Melbourne's northwestern suburbs, died in hospital last night after being shot in the chest by police.

Police Commissioner Graham Ashton said Khalif was known to counter-terrorism authorities, both "at the national level" and to the state police.

Car on fire in Bourke St Mall. Source: @Meegslouise
Car on fire in Bourke St Mall. Source: @Meegslouise

"We're certainly confident it was a terrorist attack and that's the way we've been treating it overnight," he told The Today Show this morning. "He's pulled up in a car with gas cylinders. It looks like he's attempted to ignite a fire in the car... we believe with a view to ignite these canisters with some kind of explosion, but that didn't eventuate.

"Then he's gotten out of the car, we allege with an attempt to cause serious harm to the public."

He said Khalif has a prior criminal history in relation to driving offences, theft and previous cannabis use.

Mr Ashton said the knifeman was not being actively monitored prior to the attack.

He also confirmed police had spoken with the knifeman's wife, in contrast to previous reports that she had gone missing.

"We know where his wife is and we have spoken with his wife, and she is not missing," he confirmed.

Mr Ashton commended the Victorian police officers' response to the incident, saying: "Obviously it was at their own personal risk when they arrived and intervened and did their duty. It has resulted in the death of the offender.

"You can see from the footage, it is fairly dramatic footage that was recorded and has been played on social media. They were very brave at the scene." He also commended members of the public for attempting to support the police in the incident.

Police said there has been nothing so far to suggest this attack was inspired by the James Gargasoulas attack on Bourke Street Mall last January.

Asked about the broader issue of radicalisation in Melbourne, Mr Ashton said people need to be vigilant.

"It's like all other big cities in the western world," he said. "You have to be alert for this sort of thing, and we have a lot of police working in counter-terrorism these days, and obviously at the national level with our federal agencies.

"These are the types of attacks that are unfortunately all too common in big cities around the world and we've been no exception to that.

"These days attacks can occur very quickly and can have very fatal consequences."

The Islamic State terror group has taken responsibility for the murderous attack, although the group's Amaq news website provided no evidence for the claim.

"The one who executed the ramming and stabbing operation in Melbourne (..) is one of the fighters of the Islamic State and he executed the operation in response to (a call) to target the citizens of the coalition," Amaq said late last night.

Bourke Street reopened around 6.15am this morning as investigators finished assessing the scene of the deadly terror attack.

The Melbourne road had been shut off from Swanston St to Russell St as forensics and bomb experts examined the area, after a man went on a deadly stabbing frenzy yesterday afternoon.

Three people were stabbed in the attack, with one victim dying at the scene.

CHAOS IN MELBOURNE'S CBD

THE Islamic State terror group says one of its fighters carried out a knife attack in Melbourne yesterday in which one man died and two were wounded.

The group's Amaq news website provided no evidence for the claim.

"The one who executed the ramming and stabbing operation in Melbourne (..) is one of the fighters of the Islamic State and he executed the operation in response to (a call) to target the citizens of the coalition," Amaq said overnight.

The text was referring to a call in August by Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to "use bombs, knives or cars to carry out attacks" in countries taking part in the US-led coalition that put an end to the caliphate he declared in 2014 over parts of Iraq and Syria.

The attacker in Melbourne was shot by police after he set fire to a ute laden with gas cylinders in the centre of Melbourne and stabbed three people, killing one. The attacker died later in hospital.

Police are now treating the stabbing attack in Melbourne's Bourke St as a terrorism incident.

The knifeman, a 31-year-old Somali-born from Melbourne's north-western suburbs, died in hospital last night after being shot in the chest by police.

The Herald Sun, on its Twitter page, said the terrorist's wife "was missing and is believed to have been radicalised". They say Victoria Police are searching for her.

In a press conference yesterday afternoon Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said the man who is alleged to have stabbed three people, killing one, was known to Victoria Police and federal intelligence authorities.

"We are now treating this as a terrorism incident," he said.

Commissioner Ashton revealed the man came to Australia from Somalia in the 1990s and had relatives known to police from a "terrorism perspective".

"He's got family associations that are well known to us," he said.

There were some reports that the man yelled "Allahu Akbar" during the attack but Commissioner Ashton said this had not been confirmed.

The attacker had a record of some minor offences including for cannabis use, theft and driving offences.

The man caused chaos in the Melbourne CBD on Friday afternoon after allegedly stabbing three men. One man, who is yet to be formally identified, died at the scene. Some witnesses say he was stabbed in the face.

A 26-year-old and a 58-year-old were taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Police officers also received minor injuries, one of them from being punched, and some cuts and scratches.

Police have not yet revealed the identity of the attacker or the other man who died.

But The Herald Sun has named the attacker as Mohamed Khalif, who also reportedly goes by the name Hassan Shire.

Bourke St is in lockdown from Swanston St to Russell St and is expected to remain closed until as late as 8am this morning as police investigate.

The Herald Sun is reporting one of the men injured in the attack was Rodney Patterson and his wife Maree posted on Facebook that he was "doing OK given the circumstances".

"Unfortunately we got caught up in the attack in Bourke Street this afternoon and Rodney was hurt - good news is he is in a great hospital and doing OK given the circumstances - can't take calls at the moment but will speak to everyone when I can," she wrote.

"Thanks to everyone for their wishes and caring."

In light of the attack police are doing security assessments of events happening in Melbourne this weekend and extra police may be present but the Commissioner said there was no ongoing threat they were aware of.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews condemned the incident and thanked the police and brave bystanders who had risked their lives to stop the knifeman.

"This is an evil, terrifying thing that's happened in our city and state today," Mr Andrew said.

"We condemn it. We also take this opportunity to thank those very brave and dedicated members of Victoria Police who did all of us proud in their very quick response in very dangerous circumstances. They've done each and every one of us proud.

"Equally, those strangers, people who were bystanders who knew nobody involved, who stepped in without a moment's hesitation, to render support and assistances."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he had been briefed about the incident and state and federal agencies were working together.

"I condemn the act of terrorism in Melbourne today that has tragically taken the life of a fellow Australian who has died as a result of this evil and cowardly attack," he said in a statement.

"Australians will never be intimated by these appalling attacks and we will continue to go about our lives and enjoy the freedoms that the terrorists detest."

HOW THE ATTACK UNFOLDED

The incident began when the man drove a 4WD into the city about 4.10pm and it was set on fire. Commissioner Ashton confirmed there were some barbecue-style gas cylinders in the car that had to be rendered safe by the bomb response unit.

It's unclear whether the car was set on fire before or after the man left the vehicle.

According to the ABC, witnesses saw the man crash the car, get out and throw an object into the car that set it alight.

Commissioner Ashton said after the car was set on fire, the man interacted with some members of the public before police arrived.

The man then punched one of the officers through the window of the car. Two other officers got out of the police vehicle and attempted to engage him but the man used a knife to try and attack them. One officer eventually shot him once in the chest.

Footage on social media shows a blue ute in flames and a man dressed in a black tunic and white pants menacing police with a knife. Two bystanders try to help officers stop the man, one of them by rolling a shopping trolley in his path.

Video shows the man attacking police before he is shot. Picture: Twitter
Video shows the man attacking police before he is shot. Picture: Twitter

In an earlier press conference, Victoria Police Superintendent David Clayton told reporters that police were called to the scene after reports of a car on fire. When officers got out of the car, they were confronted by a male brandishing a knife and threatening them.

"Passers-by were calling out that members of the public had been stabbed," he said.

One witness named Markel told ABC Local Radio in Melbourne that bystanders were urging officers to shot the man.

"A lot of bystanders (were) actually just screaming at the police officers, because the police officers were trying to take the knife off him and arrest him but bystanders were yelling out 'just shoot him, just shoot him'."

Ambulance Victoria said it had assessed three people at the scene, who were then taken to hospital.

One had a neck injury and was in a suspected critical condition, a second person had a head injury; and the condition and injuries of the third person was unknown.

Police have urged anyone who witnessed the incident or had footage of what happened to contact them.

One person was killed during the attack. Stuart McEvoy/The Australian.
One person was killed during the attack. Stuart McEvoy/The Australian.

 

Knife-wielding man confronts police. Source: Chris Macheras.
Knife-wielding man confronts police. Source: Chris Macheras.

 

Melbourne resident Meegan May told news.com.au she was on a tram on Bourke St heading into the city when it stopped just before Elizabeth St, about a block before the mall. She heard someone start screaming "he's got a knife".

She looked through the back window of the tram and noticed a car on fire. There was a man and two police officers trying to calm him down.

"A moment later, I heard a loud bang; to me it sounded like a gunshot," she said.

Markel Villasin, 22, was finishing his shift at KFC on Bourke St as the drama unfolded.

"Me and the managers ran out and that's when we saw the car on fire and then we saw the guy on the floor and we wanted to help, there were two blokes helping him out already, he was face down pools of blood around his face," he told AAP.

"I'm pretty sure he got stabbed in the face.

"I really wanted to help but I was in shock, I didn't know what to do.

"Because he was on his stomach, they turned him over to see if he's alright, he was still alive."

Bystander Drew Hair told AAP he was walking on Swanston Street when he heard an explosion.

The next thing he saw was a "big dude punching into the police car".

Mr Hair said the assailant was dressed in Islamic clothing and of African appearance and about six foot four inches tall.

"The cops were trying to hit him with batons and he wasn't going down," he said. Mr Hair said two civilians became involved as well as two police, trying to stop the man from his attack.

 

Some of the people injured in the attack.
Some of the people injured in the attack.

An ambulance and about 10 police cars appeared within moments.

A man told Sky News that there seemed to be multiple explosions.

"There was one explosion and fire, then a second explosion and it was like a massive fireball," he said.

Reports on 3AW Radio indicate that witnesses saw the man driving the vehicle "throw something into the back", which then ignited.

An eyewitness speaking to 7 News said it appeared the car was on fire before it crashed and "exploded".

"I was walking up Bourke St … and we heard this loud explosion. I thought it was a car backfiring but there was flames coming out of the car. It then veered to the left … and exploded in flames," the woman said.

"People were running everywhere. I thought it was like what happened last year so I started running. Everyone started running. It was so scary."

 

 

Anyone with information or who witnessed the incident is asked to go to Melbourne West police station to make a statement.

The incident comes as a trial into the 2017 rampage in Bourke Street continues.

In 2017, six people died in the terrifying car rampage that also left dozens injured.

Four adults, a child and a baby died after James "Dimitrious" Gargasoulas allegedly ploughed his car through the busy pedestrian mall on January 20.

Those killed were three-month-old Zachary Matthew-Bryant, Tahlia Hakin, 10, Yosuke Kanno, 25, Jessica Mudie, 23, and 33-year-olds Matthew Si and Bhavita Patel.

In September that year a knife-wielding man also went on a rampage outside Flinders St station. He was tasered and arrested in dramatic scenes in Melbourne's CBD.

In December, there was another incident when Saeed Noori allegedly drove a car into people crossing the intersection of Flinders and Elizabeth streets.

At least 18 people, including a four-year-old boy and international tourists, were hit by the car that afternoon and one of them, 83-year-old grandfather Antonio Crocaris, died about eight days later.

 

If you or anyone you know needs help phone Lifeline 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.

Video shows the man attacking police before he is shot. Picture: Twitter
Video shows the man attacking police before he is shot. Picture: Twitter

 

Police are seen redirecting pedestrians away from an incident on Bourke Street. Picture: James Ross/AAP
Police are seen redirecting pedestrians away from an incident on Bourke Street. Picture: James Ross/AAP

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