The federal government won’t say how many boys aged under 14 are on the radar of counter-terrorism authorities.
Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin has confirmed that a 12-year-old boy came to notice after being listed on a Federal Court control order.
The order was imposed on a Sydney man who’s been prohibited from communicating with a number of other persons of interest, including an 18-year-old currently being held in relation to the death of NSW Police employee Curtis Cheng.
Justice Minister Michael Keenan said it was a terrible situation.
‘Unfortunately, there is a barbaric terrorist organisation in the Middle East that are reaching out through social media to our young people,’ he told Nine Network on Thursday.
‘We have seen this trend of them reaching out to people in their 20s, then their late teens.
‘Now we find people in their early teens and the government is very shocked about these matters.’
Mr Keenan declined to say how many children in Australia under the age of 14 were on watch lists.
‘I do not think it is appropriate for me to go into that,’ he said.
Federal Labor frontbencher Tony Burke was shocked by the revelations.
‘You can’t contemplate how this is true … (or) how the family must feel,’ Mr Burke told Sky News on Thursday.
Mr Colvin said the discovery was shocking.
‘We’re shocked that a 12-year-old is on police radar for these types of matters,’ Mr Colvin told the ABC on Wednesday.
‘This threat has evolved, it’s become younger. We saw the very tragic events in Parramatta a week-and-a-half ago that involved a 15-year-old and I think that’s the most shocking part.’
The court order on the Sydney man, Ahmad Saiyer Naizmand, prohibits him from communicating with 18 males, including the 12-year-old and the 18-year-old.
Mr Cheng, a NSW Police accountant and father of two, was shot dead by Farhad Khalil Mohammad Jabar, 15, on October 2 as he left the Parramatta police headquarters in Sydney’s west for the weekend.
The teenager was shot dead by a special constable.
A candlelight vigil for Mr Cheng was held on Wednesday night outside the headquarters.
Meanwhile, the 18-year-old terror suspect has now been held for seven days after NSW Police successfully sought two consecutive orders to keep him in custody for questioning.