ACT police defend their comments about the ACL explosion

The ACT police have defended their decision to announce that an explosion in front of the headquarters of the Australian Christian Lobby in December was not religiously, ideologically, or politically motivated.

The damage occurred after a van containing six gas cylinders was set alight in front of the building. Later a man presented himself to a Canberra hospital suffering from severe burns.

In the days following the event police announced that the incident was not politically motivated.

ACT Policing Commander Mark Walters said at a media conference the fire was not believed to be, “politically, religiously or ideologically motivated”.

The same messages was repeated by AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin at a Senate Estimates Committee in February when he said that it was a suicide attempt.

Canberra man Jaden Duong, 36, is currently standing trial for causing the explosion. Court documents this week revealed that Duong had looked up information about marriage equality and the Australian Christian Lobby in the months leading up to the incident.

Police say that based on an short interview it was apparent that Duong had been trying to die by suicide. Based on those statements they determined Duong’s actions were not terrorism.

“To provide reassurance to the ACT community, media speculation regarding the offender’s motivation was addressed in this statement.

“It is important for police to advise the public when an investigation into a terrorism incident has commenced.  It is just as important to advise the community where an incident is not believed to be terrorism related.”

Police said they believed Duong’s primary motivation was not terrorist related, a position they maintain.

In their statement the police clarify that Duong had only looked up the Australian Christian Lobby online on one occasion, and his decision to drive the van to the location was spontaneous.

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