Melbourne attacker is member of Islamic State inspired terror group

Bangladeshi woman Momena Shoma, 24, has been charged with terrorism after an alleged Islamic State-inspired stabbing in Melbourne on February 10.

The younger sister of an international student who stabbed a man in his Melbourne home has herself stabbed a police officer in Bangladesh and admitted the siblings were members of the secret Islamic State-inspired “Neo-JMB” terror group, according to a Bangladesh police report.

The sister of Momena Shoma, 24, who has been charged with engaging in a terrorist attack in the Melbourne suburb of Mill Park last Saturday, stabbed a high-ranking police officer at her family’s apartment in Dhaka when police went to interview the family on Monday night about the Mill Park attack, the report said.

Terrorist organisation Neo-JMB is responsible for scores of killings and Bangladesh’s worst terrorist attack.

More – Sleeping Aussie stabbed in ‘Islamic State-inspired attack’

The report said Ms Shoma’s sister, Asmaul Husna alias Sumona, 22, shouted “Allahu akbar” – which in Arabic means “God is great” – when she produced a knife and stabbed Dhaka police assistant commissioner Tohidul Islam.

Her sister Shoma reportedly shouted the same thing when she allegedly stabbed Roger Singaravela, a nurse, in the neck after he accepted her into his Mill Park home as part of a home stay placement for international students. Mr Singaravelu survived the attack.

“We are suspecting that Asmaul was motivated into militancy by her elder sister Momena,” said Saiful Islam, Bangladesh’s Deputy Commissioner of Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime.

The report said the sisters were radicalised by watching militant videos online and on social media.

“Both sisters got inspired to devote to jihad and vowed to fight for establishing Islamic caliphate in Bangladesh,” it said.

It’s understood the sisters hail from a respected Bangladeshi family that is aligned with the ruling secular party, the Awami League, which takes a strong anti-terror stance.

A family friend said it was very unusual Ms Shoma came to Melbourne by herself and that no one in the community had to been told to look out for her.

The Neo-JMB group is an off-shoot of Bangladesh’s banned Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) which was responsible for an attack on a bakery in Dhaka on July 1, 2016 in which 29 people were killed, including 18 foreign hostages.

Five terrorists entered the bakery in the affluent suburb of Gulshan Thana with crude bombs, machetes and held dozens of people hostage before butchering some.

The dead included nine Italians and seven Japanese.

Islamic State claimed responsibility and released photographs of the attackers but Bangladesh authorities accused home-grown militants for the massacre.

Maulana Abdul Kashem, spiritual leader of Neo-JMB who was arrested last year, made many speeches declaring the killing of foreigners is justified.

Investigations into the Mill Park attack are likely to centre on Momena Shoma’s links to the Neo-JMB in Bangladesh.

Victoria Police say they cannot comment because the case is before the courts.

Earlier police said Shoma had been “self-radicalised” and that the Mill Park attack was Islamic State-inspired.

Shoma arrived in Melbourne on February 1 to study linguistics at La Trobe University, where she had been given a 25 per cent “excellence” scholarship.

Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville told Melbourne radio station 3AW it is “not unusual for people to be radicalised relatively quickly, that can occur, but certainty in this case the police…believe there was enough evidence to charge her with very serious offences.”

Neville said government agencies need to make proper checks on student applying to study in Australia.

“We have a lot of student tourists here and it’s a great part of our economy but I think Border Force and security agencies have a role in making sure we have good oversight of people who might be of interest,” she said.

Shoma wanted to become a university teacher and was previously a student at one of the top private universities in Bangladesh, North South University, according to her family.

Her mother died about a year ago from diabetes and her father, a manager of an insurance company, has limited English and is reportedly devastated and baffled by her arrest.

Her uncle Mohammed Abdul Aziz, a senior university official in the capital of Dhaka, told The Ageher arrest had come as a shock and he was struggling to believe the allegations.

“As a family we are totally, totally devastated,” Dr Aziz said.

Shoma’s trip to Melbourne is believed to be the first time she had travelled overseas, and the first time travelling without her parents.

Dr Aziz said he last talked to his niece on the telephone earlier this month and she had told him everything was fine and that the people were “nice” and “good”.

“She did not have anxiety, she was comfortable where she was. What went wrong, I don’t know,” he said.

Sumona has been held in custody on terrorism charges in Dhaka pending a court appearance. – BrisbaneTimes

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