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Profile of a young terror suspect

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Dead terror suspect Numan Haider had recently split with a woman who converted to Islam, leaving the 18-year-old heartbroken.

News Limited reports the Afghani’s marriage to a Sri Lankan woman soured in mid-2014, leaving him increasingly aggressive.

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But Mohamed Ibrahim roomed with Haider on a Muslim youth camp last year and described him as gentle and quiet and a man who was not a radical.

“He was a gentle, soft spoken young boy and when I heard the report yesterday about a man who had been shot – when I actually found out he was Numan – I was absolutely shocked,” he told the ABC.

Haider had been associated with the radical Islamic group Al-Furqan. It is understood he had recently moved away from the group, as friends explained he was more of a ‘fanboy’ who got in with ‘the wrong crowd’ and had no genuine links to IS.

Haider was born in Afghanistan in the mid-nineties before immigrating to Adelaide. His family moved to the southeastern suburbs of Melbourne in 2007, where school friends from Lyndale Secondary College say Haider was a follower who never showed signs of violent behaviour.

The teenager’s grieving mother Suraya reportedly had no idea what her son was doing, as a stream of well-wishers arrived at the family home in Narre Warren South.

A meeting turns to violence

Counter-terrorism officers wanted to chat to Haider after becoming concerned about his escalating rhetoric.

The terror suspect’s passport was cancelled a week ago on national security grounds but police say they weren’t about to arrest him when he turned up for a pre-arranged meeting at a Melbourne police station.

Within moments of shaking his hand, the two police officers were stabbed and Mr Haider was shot dead. A second knife was found on his body.

Facebook image of Numan Haider holding what appears to be an IS flag.

“His actions may tell a story of what his intentions were,” Victoria Police chief commissioner Ken Lay said on Wednesday.

There were also unconfirmed reports he had a black flag linked to jihadist group Islamic State, or ISIL.

The man had been on the police radar for three months, but authorities say he was acting alone when he violently lashed out at the police.

“This is an incident resulting from the actions of one individual,” Victorian Premier Denis Napthine said.

“It is not about faith, it’s not about ethnicity, it’s about the alleged behaviour of an individual.”

Fairfax Media reported Mr Haider may have planned to behead the officers, after ISIL on Monday issued a statement asking its followers to directly target Australians and citizens of other western countries. Police declined to comment.

Officers had become concerned Mr Haider’s behaviour had escalated in the past week, and he had been seen in a shopping centre displaying an IS flag, Mr Lay said.

“We learned of some behaviours that were causing us significant concern and our interest was greatly heightened,” he said.

But Mr Lay said the joint counter terrorism taskforce officers did not intend to arrest Mr Haider.

“We were just needing to have a chat and we just wanted to test some of his thinking,” he said.

Mr Haider came willingly to the Endeavour Hills police station on Tuesday night, but wanted to meet the police in an adjacent car park.

After shaking hands, Mr Haider repeatedly knifed the Australian Federal Police officer in the stomach, head and neck and the Victoria Police leading senior constable was stabbed twice to the forearm, police said.

Police officers at the scene of the fatal shooting in Endeavour Hills.
Police officers at the scene of the fatal shooting in Endeavour Hills.

The Victorian policeman then fired a single shot, killing Mr Haider on the spot.

Mr Haider’s family had tried to prevent him from leaving their house on Tuesday and were concerned for his safety, the ABC reported.

But contrary to some reports, AFP acting commissioner Andrew Colvin said Mr Haider hadn’t made any “specific” threats against Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

The Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) has already received a number of threats since Tuesday’s incident.

“Threats, language against the family of the young man, clearly there are – and I use this deliberately – extremists on all sides of the community,” ICV secretary Ghaith Krayem said.

Mr Krayem said the black flag being used by IS has a deep historical significance for Muslims and had been co-opted by the group.

“Right now that flag poses a real point of sensitivity, and somebody who was thoughtful and mature would not be going around waving the flag,” Mr Krayem said.

He said he would wait for investigations to conclude before judging Mr Haider’s actions.

“I’m not going to condemn what he did because we don’t know what he did,” he said.

Mr Abbott, who has travelled to the US for international meetings on the response to IS, said the incident underscored the need for police and community vigilance.

“Obviously, this indicates that there are people in our community who are capable of very extreme acts,” he said.

Abbott speaks to family of injured officers

Speaking in Hawaii while en route to a UN Security Council meeting in New York, Mr Abbott said the Melbourne incident was “nasty” and showed the threat from extremists was real.

“Obviously, this indicates that there are people in our community who are capable of very extreme acts,” he said.

“It also indicates that the police will be constantly vigilant to protect us against people who would do us harm.”

Mr Abbott said he had spoken to the wives of both police officers involved.

Chief Commissioner Lay said the stab wounds to the police officers were significant and required surgery, but that both officers were in a stable condition.

“Our AFP colleague underwent surgery overnight for some significant injuries, he’s come through that surgery it appears pretty well, he’s in a serious but stable condition,” Chief Commissioner Lay said.

“Our Victorian Police member has had quite a significant stab wound to his arm, I understand he’ll undergo surgery today to repair some ligament and nerve damage.

Endeavour Hills police shooting
Police from the bomb squad inspect a car after the shooting. Photo: AAP

Islamic leaders criticise police investigation

Leaders of Melbourne’s Islamic community criticised police over their investigation into the fatal shooting.

Gaith Krayem from the Islamic Council of Victoria said police were quick to jump to conclusions.

“I was disappointed with the immediate press conference police held last night. It was held three hours after the event, and they drew conclusions immediately,” Mr Krayem said.

“There needs to be a proper process as there always should be when police are involved in a fatality.”

Mr Krayen said the public needed to reserve their judgement until a full and objective investigation has taken place.

—with AAP, ABC

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