Saeed Noori, 32, the confirmed culprit who rammed an SUV into a crowd of Christmas shoppers in Australia, told authorities Friday his attack was a revenge plot in retaliation for the “mistreatment of Muslims.”
Noori, an Afghan refugee who was granted entry into Australia in 2004, and became a citizen two years later, injured 19 people when he sped his vehicle into a busy intersection in downtown Melbourne outside the main train station just before 5 p.m. Thursday.
After he was arrested, Noori made his initial intentions for the attack clear to police, which Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull confirmed. The suspect further referenced Australia’s domestic security service and spoke of God following his arrest.
Noori reportedly has a history of mental illness, and officials said he spoke briefly to investigators about his dreams and hearing voices from his hospital bed.
Officials are also claiming he has no known links to extremist groups and did not register on intelligence agencies’ list of potential terror suspects.
“He has said that he attributes his actions to the perceived mistreatment of Muslims,” Turnbull said at a press conference. “At this stage . . . apart from that statement, there are no known links to any political issues or any links to extremist groups.”
Despite Noori revealing his intent behind the dangerous attack, the Australian government has been reluctant to deem his actions an act of terrorism.
“I don’t have an issue with saying this is an act of terrorism if we establish that it is,” said the acting chief commissioner of the Victoria Police, Shane Patton. “It would be easier to come out and say that straight up. But that’s not the case at this stage. We don’t have sufficient [evidence] to justify that.”
Noori remains in police custody.
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