The man allegedly said he was at the Opera House on the instructions of Islamic State. Photo: Brendon ThorneA teenager accused of making threats to attack the Sydney Opera House allegedly told security guards that he travelled to the forecourt of the iconic attraction with a backpack containing canisters of brake fluid on the “instructions of Islamic State”.
The 18-year-old man, from Narwee, has an intellectual disability and police don’t believe he had any capability to carry out an attack.
However, terrorism investigators felt like they had no other option but to charge the man on Thursday night after his behaviour had escalated in recent weeks.
The teen appeared via video-link in Central Local Court on Friday charged with threatening to destroy or damage property.
Wearing a forensic jumpsuit and looking at the ground, he broke down as he told Magistrate Les Mabbutt that he was seeing doctors recently because he was “not acting like myself”.
Mr Mabbutt ordered that the man be admitted to St Vincent’s Hospital for a psychiatric assessment.
His arrest came just two days after Islamic State released a magazine article urging “lone wolf” followers to stab, shoot, poison and run over Australians at iconic attractions including the Opera House, Bondi Beach and the MCG.
When Opera House security approached the man at 11.20am on Thursday, he allegedly said he was “here [on] ISIS instructions to carry out an attack,” the court heard.
His backpack contained two canisters of non-flammable brake fluid and an address book with details of deaths and injuries of “certain people,” the court heard.
Three weeks ago, the teen was given an 18-month good behaviour bond in Parramatta Children’s Court for a string of online hoax threats made against government buildings, public transport and schools.
He cannot be identified because he was underage at the time of the offences.
One of the conditions of his bond was that he not access any internet or telephone device unless under direct supervision of a handful of people, including his older sister.
He was also ordered to have a mentor from the Lebanese Muslim Association and engage in psychological assessments, counselling and treatment recommended by the LMA or Ageing, Disability and Home Care, part of the Department of Family and Community Services.
Mr Mabbutt expressed disbelief on Friday that none of the religious or welfare agencies looking after him had done a mental health assessment. Instead, it was only after his arrest that he was admitted to a facility.
“It has come down to this,” he said, adding that none of the man’s family members had turned up at court to give details on the man’s mental state.
The court heard the teen had recently been observed talking and laughing to himself and hearing voices. He had increasingly been staying at home playing video games, watching TV and not maintaining proper hygiene.
During proceedings on Friday, he squinted his eyes, looked at the roof, hunched over and licked his lips several times.
It’s understood police had cautioned the teen several times and worked closely with his family and his school in an attempt to change his behaviour.
The Terrorism Investigations Squad searched the family’s Narwee home on Thursday night and seized items including computers and phones.