Teenager behind alleged stabbings at Assyrian Orthodox church in Wakeley charged with terrorism offence and denied bail

The teenage boy who allegedly attacked a prominent Sydney bishop during a church sermon in Sydney's west this week has been charged with terrorism. 

A joint counter-terrorism taskforce involving the Australian Federal Police, NSW Police, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), and NSW Crime Commission have alleged the 16-year-old carried out a religiously motivated terror attack on Monday night.

The charges comes days after authorities declared the attack a terrorist act. 

The incident unfolded at Christ The Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley during an evening sermon being delivered by Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel. 

The bishop was lunged at and allegedly stabbed by the boy on a Facebook livestream of the mass. 

Another priest, Father Isaac Royal, was also allegedly stabbed when he attempted to intervene, but the vision was not caught on camera.

"This afternoon investigators from the Joint Counter Terrorism Team Sydney attended a medical facility to interview the boy, before he was charged with committing a terrorist act under section 101.1 Criminal Code Act (Commonwealth) 1995, an offence which carries a maximum penalty of imprisonment for life," NSW Police said.

"He has been refused bail and is expected to appear before a bedside court hearing tomorrow."

The 53-year-old bishop remains in hospital in a stable condition after sustaining significant injuries to the head, while the 39-year-old priest has been discharged post treatment for lacerations and a shoulder wound.

Tensions in Sydney's vast multicultural communities have been heightened in the wake of the brazen attack at a place of worship.

A violent riot broke out outside the church on Monday night, with outraged locals swarming the scene in thousands in demand of the offender being turned in.

The mob quickly turned on police, preventing officers from being able to leave the church building where the boy was being held. 

At least 50 police cars were smashed and between two to five officers injured after having heavy objects, including fence rails thrown at them.

Members of the Muslim community have voiced concerns about authorities being quick to declare the incident an act of terrorism, and its contribution to an anti-Islamist extremist narrative whipped up in the media.

Australia's largest mosque in Sydney's Lakemba said it had received firebombing threats the day following the terror declaration, and consequently increased security. 

Parents of the teenager, ahead of his charges, dismissed claims their son had been "radicalised" by extremist ideology.

“Not long ago he bought himself a drum and he was playing the drum, listening to the music and swaying his body according to the music – for a radicalised person, this is a no-no,” a spokesperson for the parents, Dr Jamal Rifi, told Sky News on Wednesday. 

Religious leaders have unanimously called for calm in the wake of the Wakeley church attack and urged people across all faiths to come together rather than seek to be divisive.

Bishop Emmanuel earlier on Thursday expressed forgiveness for the person who committed the act.

“I say to him, you’re my son, I love you. And I will always pray for you,” he said from his hospital bed in an audio message which was shared to the Church’s social media.

“And whoever sent you to do this, I forgive them as well. In Jesus mighty name. I have nothing in my heart but love for everyone.”

The teenager remains in hospital after sustaining finger injuries amid the Monday night fracas where he was set upon by churchgoers who witnessed the alleged stabbing. 

He will have a bedside court hearing on Friday. 

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