Australian detectives suspect the deaths of an elderly couple in their Brisbane home is a “terrorism incident” carried out by a knife-wielding man who was shot dead by police, officials told reporters on Friday.
Media sources report that according to the police, the assailant, Raghe Abdi, 22, threatened police with a knife before he was shot dead on a highway on the outskirts of Brisbane on Thursday morning.
The bodies of an 87-year-old man and an 86-year-old woman were found in their home later on Thursday, near where Abdi died, Queensland state Police Deputy Commissioner Tracy Linford said.
Linford declined to detail how they had died but homicide detectives found evidence that Abdi had been in their house, she said.
“Further examination of both that scene and the scene of the police shooting yesterday, has uncovered for us what we believe to be a direct link between the two matters,” she said in a press conference on Friday.
She added that an item allegedly discovered on Abdi was believed to have been taken from the deceased couple’s home, while several items at the home were linked to the man.
Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll told reporters the known extremist had been acting alone. “We had no choice but to declare this as a terrorism incident,” she said.
Australian federal police suspect that Abdi had been influenced by the Islamic State group. He was arrested on suspicion of trying to join extremists when he attempted to depart Brisbane Airport for Somalia in May 2019. He was released without charge due to insufficient evidence, but his passport was cancelled.
In June 2019, he was charged with further offences including refusing to give detectives the pass code for his phone.
He was free on bail and had been ordered to wear a GPS tracking device, which he had cut off sometime before he was shot.
His lawyer told national broadcaster ABC that the police were incorrect to connect him with terrorism and labelled yesterday’s shooting as a “significant adverse mental health event”.