There is evidence to indicate that a “known terror suspect” shot dead by Australian police Tuesday night may have been planning to behead the two officers he stabbed outside a police station and drape an Islamic State flag over their bodies, according to a report in the Australian media.
In addition to the knife he used to stab the officers, police also found a second larger knife on the suspect as well as an Islamic State flag, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Police have yet to officially release the information.
Officials said the suspect was being investigated after allegedly unfurling an Islamic State flag in a local shopping center recently and posting inflammatory remarks on social media.
The 18-year-old, whose passport was canceled a week ago on security grounds, was killed on Tuesday evening, having arrived at a police station on the outskirts of Melbourne to attend a “routine” interview.
Named by media as Abdul Numan Haider, he was met by two members of the Joint Counter Terrorism Team and greeted them with a handshake before pulling out a knife and attacking both men, with one stabbed in the head, neck and stomach.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation said Haider’s family was from Afghanistan and he had links with Islamic group Al-Furqan in southeast Melbourne, which was targeted in terrorism raids by police in 2012.
The attack came after Islamic State militants released a statement Monday urging the indiscriminate killing of citizens of countries taking part in the US-led coalition against the group, which has seized swaths of Iraq and Syria and declared an Islamic “caliphate.”
Australia was singled out, along with the United States, Canada and France.
“Obviously, this indicates that there are people in our community who are capable of very extreme acts,” Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in a statement.
“It also indicates that the police will be constantly vigilant to protect us against people who would do us harm.”
Canberra this month raised its terror threat level and last week carried out large-scale raids in Sydney and Brisbane to disrupt an alleged plot by Islamic State supporters to abduct and behead a member of the public.
The government believes up to 60 Australians are fighting alongside Islamic State jihadists, while 20 have returned home and at least another 100 are actively working to support the movement at home.
The rise of IS and moves by Australia to tighten counter-terrorism laws have raised tensions in the Muslim community, with leaders on Wednesday detailing a backlash, including several mosques being threatened or pelted with eggs.
In one incident a pig’s head impaled on a cross was left outside a mosque, while threatening messages had been spray-painted on cars, they said.
Australia has deployed 600 troops to the United Arab Emirates to join the international coalition gearing up for a campaign to eradicate the jihadists. It has also sent eight RAAF F/A18 combat aircraft.
So far Australia has only been involved in dropping humanitarian and military aid to Iraqis under siege and has repeatedly ruled out intervention on the ground.