Two men will be charged over the fatal shooting of a police accountant outside a Sydney police building two weeks ago as investigators continue to probe an extremist network with members as young as 12, officials said in Thursday.
An urgent national meeting of federal and state law enforcement officials convened by Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull in the national capital Canberra on Thursday to counter violent extremism following the Oct. 2 shooting of accountant Curtis Cheng by 15-year-old Farhad Jabar.
Iranian-born Jabar was later shot dead by police.
A 22 year-old man was expected to appear in a Sydney court on Friday on charges including supplying the revolver used, police said in a statement.
An 18-year-old man who has been in police custody without charge since Oct. 7 will appear in another Sydney court on Friday charged with terrorism offenses related to the shooting, police said. Their identities have not been made public.
Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin said Australia’s terrorist threat had evolved and become younger over the past year.
“We’re shocked that a 12-year-old is on police radar for these types of matters,” Colvin told Australian Broadcasting Corp. television.
ABC reported on Wednesday that the 12-year-old boy was the youngest of 18 suspected extremists named in a court document in March. The boy’s name has not been published.
Terror suspect Ahmad Naizmand, 20, was barred from contacting the 18 — including five children — under the terms of a control order issued by a Sydney court in March.
A control order is a counterterrorism measure that restricts the activities of suspects even if they have not been charged.
The government announced this week that it will legislate to reduce the age of suspects that can be subjected to such control orders from 16 to 14 years.
Colvin declined to comment on the ABC’s allegation that the group had been attempting to source a gun as early as March.
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Counterterrorism Michael Keenan said he was “deeply worried” that children as young as 12 were being radicalized.
“Anyone in Australia would be disturbed to hear of the fact that a 12-year-old could be radicalized and could actually become a danger to the community,” Keenan told reporters after the meeting.
Australia has been struggling to cope with a string of homegrown terrorism crimes involving teenagers.
In September 2014, an 18-year-old was shot dead by police after stabbing two counterterrorism police officers in Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city.
In April, several teens were arrested on suspicion of plotting an Islamic State group-inspired attack at a Veterans’ Day ceremony in Melbourne.
And in May, police arrested a 17-year-old in Melbourne and accused him of plotting to detonate three homemade pipe bombs.