AFP accused of encouraging 13-year-old boy’s fixation with Islamic State | ABC News – 14 Feb.2024

AFP accused of encouraging 13-year-old boy’s fixation with Islamic State | ABC News (

Greens senator David Shoebridge has labelled comments by the Australian Federal Police as “chilling” and “extraordinary” after it defended its handling of terror charges against an autistic teenager.

The 13-year-old boy had become fixated with the Islamic State terror group ISIS before his parents took him to a Victoria Police station seeking help.

While he was receiving support from a therapeutic team, a covert operation with undercover police was launched, which saw the boy charged with terror offences.

David Shoebridge has called for an independent review.

In a scathing Victorian Children’s Court ruling, a magistrate dismissed the charges and said police attempted to radicalise the boy to gain evidence to prosecute him.

It included an undercover officer targeting the boy online and telling him he would make a good sniper or suicide bomber.

Despite the ruling the operation fell “profoundly short of the minimum standards expected of law enforcement,” AFP Deputy Commissioner Ian McCartney told Senate estimates he would sign off on the operation again.

“He had [a] long-standing fixation on ISIS. He had expressed a desire to carry out a violent act. He expressed the desire to carry out a school shooting. He was researching material on how to build a bomb, he was engaging with like-minded individuals,” the deputy commissioner said.

“I would say in relation to that, there was a conservative three-and-a-half month effort by the Victoria Police Countering Violent Extremism team to deradicalise him. The decision that was made by the team, it wasn’t being effective. He was becoming more and more radicalised.

“I think from our view, and again, we go to the damage control operation — if the same set of circumstances, I would sign that again.”

Deputy Commissioner McCartney previously noted that the operational decisions were taken jointly by the AFP, Victoria Police and ASIO.

The AFP and Victoria Police acknowledged the court ruling criticising them for attempting to radicalise the boy.

Calls mounting for disciplinary review

While an internal review of the AFP is underway, Senator Shoebridge is calling for an independent review to hold those involved accountable.

“An undercover operative who went in and instead of trying to assist the child… whose actions actively radicalised a 13-year-old boy with autism when the family had come to him for help, who put ideas of becoming a sniper and a suicide bomber, who put ideas of radical Islam into the child’s mind? Surely there should be some disciplinary proceedings against that,” the senator said.

“We had the family of the then 13-year-old boy with autism and… an IQ in the 70s, deeply concerned about what their child was doing.”

Earlier this week, Acting Director of the Commonwealth Public Prosecutions Scott Bruckard told Senate estimates the decision to charge the boy was in the public interest.

“It was a very serious allegation that was made against this young person, and applying the prosecution policy of the Commonwealth, aware of his tender years — it was our view that given the very serious nature of the allegations, it was appropriate to proceed with the prosecution.”

In late October last year, Magistrate Lesley Fleming ruled that the rehabilitation of the boy was “doomed” when he connected online with the officer.

“It is a nonsense to expect this Court to accept that an effective rehabilitation process can be undertaken when there is a seasoned covert operator online engaging TC (the teenager), encouraging TC’s fixation and that TC’s rehabilitation team, his parents and his psychologist are oblivious to the existence of the OCO (the online persona),” Ms Fleming said in her judgement.


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