Queensland police say they are treating the alleged murder of an elderly Brisbane couple, and the subsequent police shooting of a man on a motorway, as “a terrorism incident”.
Raghe Abdi, 22, was shot dead by police officers on the Logan Motorway on Thursday morning.
On Friday, police said they believed Abdi was earlier responsible for the murder of an elderly couple, who were found dead in their home in the Brisbane suburb of Parkinson on Wednesday.
Police have said Abdi had an item from the home in his possession when he was killed.
“We are treating this matter as a terrorism event,” deputy commissioner Tracy Linford told reporters on Friday.
“And I want to stress that nothing else has been uncovered at this point of time that would indicate that there are any other persons involved in this terrorism event.”
Abdi, who was known to a counter-terrorism taskforce, was arrested in 2019 attempting to board a flight to Somalia, but charges against him were dropped “due to a lack of evidence”.
Police alleged that on Thursday morning he lunged at officers armed with a knife and said “Allahu akhbar” – an Arabic phrase meaning “God is great” – before he was shot.
He is also alleged to have removed a GPS tracking device he was required to wear as part of strict bail conditions on Wednesday afternoon.
However friends of Abdi and his lawyers dispute the police version of events and the notion there is any terror link.
Friends have also claimed, in an Instagram account set up to counter police claims, that he was not holding a weapon, but had a water bottle in his hand when shot.
Linford would not comment on claims he was armed with a water bottle, saying it would be inappropriate to do so before an inquest.
Abdi had spent more than a year on remand, charged for refusing to give police the passcode to his mobile phone and contempt of court.
He was released in September and ordered to wear a GPS tracking device. Police have said the device was cut off on Wednesday afternoon.
Terry O’Gorman, the prominent civil libertarian and Abdi’s lawyer, told the ABC the police were engaging in a “deplorable practice” of painting a victim of a police shooting in the worst possible light.
O’Gorman said he understood Abdi had suffered an “adverse mental heath event” and that there was no evidence he was involved in terrorism.
He said his client had travelled to Somalia to visit relatives.
Linford told reporters police were “trying to understand what Mr Abdi’s motivation is”.
When asked to justify the classification of “terrorism”, she said: “It is a whole combination of things”.
“Yesterday we detailed to you the history of counter-terrorism investigations into that individual.
“Whilst he was not charged with any counter-terrorism offences he was awaiting charges on some more minor offences.
“Cleary the police shooting yesterday gave us indications he wanted to harm police, and then of course today we’ve got the next matter of the investigation into the double homicide, of which we think he is linked.
“So when you put all those things together I think it’s pretty clear we need to treat this as a terrorism event.”