The family of Hassan Khalif Shire Ali, the man behind last Friday’s deadly Bourke Street attack in Melbourne that left one man dead and two others seriously injured, have broken their silence.
Speaking exclusively to 9 News on Sunday, a family representative said Shire Ali wasn’t a terrorist and that he was instead “crying for help”.
“They think that their child had mental problems,” Family representative Imam Isse Musse explained on camera. “They could not believe their ears when they heard that their son committed this act.”
Isse Musse claimed the 30-year-old was “delusional” and that he told his family someone was chasing him with spears. According to the report, Shire Ali had become distant from his family in the lead up to the attack. His sister gave 9 News a handwritten note explaining her brother’s actions.
“Hasan suffered from mental illness for years and refused help,” the note read. “He’s been deteriorating these past few months. He has seen a psychologist and psychiatrist, but stopped as his paranoia and hallucinations led him to believe they’re ‘after him’.
She also asked people not to turn her brother’s actions into a “political game”.
“This isn’t a guy who had any connections with terrorism, but was simply crying for help,” the letter continued.
On behalf of the family, Isse Musse extended their sympathy to the other families impacted by Shire Ali’s actions.
“They never thought such a thing could happen,” he said.
Meanwhile, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told reporters there was no definite link to ISIS and confirmed there has been forensic activity that will continue. Prime Minister Scott Morrison also responded in a video shared online, slamming “religious extremism”.
“I am the first to protect religious freedom in this country, but it also means I must be the first to call out religious extremism,” he said. “Religious extremism takes many forms around the world, and no religion is immune from it … But here in Australia, we would be kidding ourselves if we did not call out the fact that the greatest threat of religious extremism … is the radical and dangerous ideology of extremist Islam.”
It comes after a homeless man become an unlikely hero after video of himself ramming a trolley into Shire Ali went viral. Michael Rogers appeared on 7 News and recalled the moment Shire Ali stabbed three people.
“I’ve seen the trolley at the side and so I picked it up and ran,” he said. “I threw the trolley straight at him, and I got him. I didn’t quite get him down, though. I did that motion quite a number of times but it just wasn’t getting him down.”
Restaurant owner Sisto Malaspina, 74, was killed during the knife attack.
Flowers and cards have been left outside Pellegrini’s restaurant in memory of the cheery owner, with Bill Shorten even visiting to lay his own flowers as a tribute to his life and work – having visited the cafe since he was a child.