Too early to say if Sydney teen shooter was lone wolf: PM

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says it’s too early to say whether the 15-year-old who shot dead a Sydney police worker was acting as a `lone wolf’.


As the government and Muslim communities try to work together to stop the radicalisation of youths, Mr Turnbull has asked parents to keep tabs on what their children are up to, to head off the risk of exposure to the recruitment practices of terrorist groups like Islamic State.

The plea comes after Friday’s shooting death of veteran police force finance staffer Curtis Cheng, 58, by Farhad Jabar Khalil Mohammad, 15, as he left the force’s Parramatta headquarters.

The teen was then shot dead by special constables.

At this stage, Mr Turnbull said it’s too early to say whether the boy was a “lone wolf” – someone who carries out violent acts of terrorism outside of a group command structure.

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“We all need to be aware of the way in which radicalisation can occur. Communities at every level – families – should be aware of what young people are doing, what influences are impacting on young people,” he told reporters in regional Victoria on Monday.

Politicians, police and Muslim community leaders are in agreement: early intervention is key.

Prominent community leader Dr Jamal Rifi says mums and dads worried their children are at risk of radicalisation should be able to seek help from an early-intervention team.

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His concern is that worried parents have few options besides police or the terrorism hotline when seeking help.

On ABC radio on Monday he proposed a special assessment team, which could include a community or family leader, psychologists, youth workers and religious leaders.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says early intervention programs are long overdue.

“Having the police deal with the matter after it has happened is far less desirable than preventing it happening in the first place,” he told reporters in Sydney.

“If you think your child is in danger of being exploited by a predator, doing nothing is not an option.”

NSW Labor MP Jihad Dib, the member for Lakemba, said it was time to start looking at disengagement factors.

“Kids have always had a history of being disengaged … but not to this extent. We’ve got to find ways to stop them. There’s got to be an intervention,” he told Sky News.