The knifeman behind yesterday’s stabbing rampage had a USB full of terror propaganda, but he wasn’t a terrorist, experts say.
Mert Ney, 21, ran through the streets of the Sydney CBD yesterday afternoon wearing a balaclava and brandishing a knife after allegedly slashing the throat of a sex worker near Wynyard station.
He was apprehended by good Samaritans after earlier escaping from a mental health facility.
Ney, who has a long history of mental illness, spent Tuesday night under police guard at Prince of Wales Hospital in Randwick. He is yet to be charged but is facing murder charges as well as potential terrorism charges.
But police and experts say while the attack has all the hallmarks of terrorism, and the offender was carrying a thumb drive with terror propaganda, the offender is likely not a terrorist.
Deakin University terrorism expert Professor Greg Barton says he can see why people “jump to conclusions”.
“Yeah, it’s an understandable response and the fact that we have video of him yelling ‘Allahu Akbar’,” he told the Today show.
“People jump to that conclusion. But the people who very bravely responded were quick to point out they weren’t jumping to that conclusion, and it does look much more like a mental health come drugs problem come unhappy messed-up life, sad loner rather than somebody who was motivated by extremist ideas. The police will check it out very thoroughly.”
“What we appear to have is someone attempting suicide by police and they wanted to go out by a blaze of glory,” Prof Barton said.
“Apparently, there was reference to the Christchurch attack and other attacks, he may have been inspired to do something by what happened there.
“That doesn’t mean that he internalised those ideas.”
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller described Ney as a “lone actor” and said early inquiries found he may have held some concerning ideologies, but the incident was not terror related.
“Information was found on him that would suggest he had some ideologies related to terrorism, but he has no links to terrorism … he has no apparent links to terror organisations,” he said.
People who grew up with the alleged killer say he did not have many friends.
Reen Elomari, who went to school with Ney, told the Mail Online he kept to himself.
“He was not much of a talker. He always used to walk fast, not many friends, never used to say anything,” he said.
Police are today going through the former Blacktown Boys High School student’s home to search for evidence the crime spree may have been planned. The house in Marayong is sealed off by police tape.
It comes as more information emerges about the 21-year-old’s struggles with mental health and drugs.
Ney was just last week admitted to Blacktown Hospital suffering from a suspected drug overdose, The Daily Telegraph reports.
Anxiety medication was found on the ground near where the suspect was arrested.