raid terror arrests bishop stabbed australia
© NSW PoliceThe raids were carried out in response to the attack on Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel - an alleged terror incident, on April 24, 2024.
Seven young people have been arrested in counter-terrorism raids across Sydney in response to last week's Sydney church stabbing.

More than 400 members of a joint counter-terrorism team from state and federal police forces began kicking down doors at 13 homes in the city's south-west at about 11.15am on Wednesday.

The sweeping raids were carried out in response to the April 15 attack on Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel at the Assyrian church, Christ The Good Shepherd Church, in Wakeley - which was declared a religiously motivated terror incident.

New South Wales Police said there was no specific threat to public safety and the raids had no connection to Anzac Day commemorations on Thursday.

However, the national terrorism threat level remains at 'possible'.

sydney stab knife church bishop
Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was preaching at The Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley in Sydney's west on Monday evening when a man dressed in black walked up to the altar and stabbed him multiple times (pictured)
NSW Police Deputy Commissioner David Hudson told reporters on Monday 'a number of associates were identified that we believe warranted further close attention and investigation'. Those arrested were 15, 16 and 17 year-olds.

'We will allege that these individuals adhere to a religiously motivated violent extremist ideology,' Commissioner Hudson said.

'These investigations have been progressing since the incident, the investigations including comprehensive surveillance activities and intensive scrutiny of these individuals.'

The counter-terrorism team determined on Tuesday those arrested allegedly 'posed an unacceptable risk to the people of New South Wales'.

'Our current, purely investigative, strategies could not adequately ensure public safety,' Commissioner Hudson said.

'As a result, we determined that we needed to escalate our activities and that overt action was required.

'I can assure the community there is no ongoing threat to the community, and the action we have taken today has mitigated any risk of future or further harm.'

Another five people are assisting police with inquiries.

Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Krissy Barrett emphasised the arrests were not racially or religiously motivated.

'I want to be very clear, we target criminality and not countries. We target radicalisation, not religion,' she said.

'We ask Australians to remain vigilant. I urge people who see or hear something that they feel is not right to contact the National Security Hotline immediately on 1800 123 400.'

Suburbs included in the raids were Bankstown, Prestons, Casula, Lurnea, Rydalmere, Greenacre, Strathfield, Chester Hill and Punchbowl, as well as a property in Goulburn, 195km south-west of Sydney.

Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers confirmed the raids were in relation to the alleged stabbing at Christ The Good Shepherd Church. ASIO Director-General Mike Burgess said the security organisation was involved in the operation as a part of the Joint Counter Terrorism Team (JCCT).

'My officers are connected, involved and embedded inside the joint counter-terrorism team,' Mr Burgess told the National Press Club.

The JCCT also includes Australian Federal Police, NSW Police and the NSW Crime Commission.

A 16-year-old male, who can not be identified for legal reasons, is accused of stabbing Bishop Emmanuel, 55, during a livestreamed sermon in front of parishioners. The teenager was charged with terrorism offences and refused bail. The use of the term terrorism by police indicates authorities believe the incident was religiously or politically motivated.

The Australian National Security website currently advises the national terrorism threat level is 'possible' due to 'a small number of people in Australia and overseas who want to cause Australia harm'.

'You don't need to change your daily behaviour or activities. Government authorities will tell you if this changes,' it states.

'Local authorities will provide you with the current advice. It is important to stay up to date with them and the threat level.'

Witnesses to last Monday's attack said the alleged perpetrator used the Islamic phrase 'Allahu Akbar' and allegedly said in Arabic that Bishop Emmanuel had denigrated 'my prophet'.

The stabbing sparked a massive riot outside the church with some 2,000 people chanting 'bring him out' and 'an eye for an eye'.

Police kept the alleged terrorist inside the church during the demonstration, due to fears for his safety. The large, angry mob saw dozens of officers injured and police property damaged. Some were forced to take shelter inside the church alongside paramedics.

Police made their first arrest in relation to the riots just hours prior to the teen being charged with terrorism.

Four others, including a 17-year-old boy, have been arrested and face charges for their alleged involvement in the incident.

Police released images of nine other men they wish to speak to in relation to the riots. Anyone with information has been urged to contact Crime Stoppers.