A student from Epping Boys High School in Sydney is being investigated by the counter-terrorism taskforce after allegedly preaching extremist Islamic views at school.
The Australian reports that the boy, who is of Afghan heritage, was “preaching in the playground” to other students.
Police are currently determining whether the sermons the 17-year-old delivered were part of a monitored religious program officially recognised by the school.
The boy is also believed to be acquainted with Milad bin Ahmad-Shah al-Ahmadzai, an alleged Sydney jihadist, currently in custody.
The principal of the school Tim O’Brien has emphasised that student safety and support at his school is the highest priority at all times, and that he and the school are working with authorities.
“I would like to reassure the whole Epping Boys High School community that the school continues to be in close liaison with the Department of Education and a range of law enforcement agencies to uphold our exemplary levels of student safety and student well being,” he said.
“School counsellors are available for all boys, if required, today or in the future.
“All normal lessons and activities are proceeding today according to timetable.
“The school appreciates the wonderfully warm and resolute support from parents and the broader school community at this time.”
The investigation follows the release of the national counter-terrorism strategy yesterday, which included sub-chapters dedicated to “challenging violent extremist ideologies” and “stopping people from becoming terrorists”.
“Australia’s task to constrain the terrorist threat is fundamentally about limiting the spread and influence of violent extremist ideas,” the report said.
“Governments are working with communities to counter violent extremist propaganda with carefully targeted messages.
“Our messages show people there are ways they can help improve the situation in Syria or Iraq, and ways they can find a sense of meaning and belonging in Australia, without resorting to violence.”
It goes on to discuss the most effective defence against terrorism — preventing people from becoming terrorists in the first place.
“To do this we work closely with the community: families, friends and community members are often in the best position to identify individuals who are at risk of radicalisation and help steer them away from violent extremism,” the report said.
“Our aim is to prevent extremists from exploiting vulnerable Australians and robbing them of their futures.”
Read more about the new counter-terrorism strategy here.
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