Federal Police: Man behind ACL explosion was not ideologically driven

Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin has said police still believe the man behind the explosion at the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) in December was not driven by ideological motivations.

The Commissioner was appearing before a Senate Estimates Committee yesterday when he was asked about the event.

“We don’t believe his primary motivation was to make any particular message or send any signal about the ACL,” he said.

“We do believe he knew that it was the ACL [building] but he was not driven by a motivation or an ideology based on anything the Christian Lobby had done or said.

The Commissioner said police had interviewed the man when he presented himself to a Canberra hospital and they believe his main motivation was suicide. Mental illness was highlighted as a factor in the case.

Commissioner Colvin said officers had not been able to interview the man further due to his substantial injuries and they would not be able to reach a definitive conclusion until they had spoken to him again.

The Australian Christian Lobby has seized upon the Commissioner’s statement saying it showed that the “bomber” had acted with intent.

Immediately after the incident Lyle Shelton, the Managing Director of the organisation, told the media that he believed the explosion was related to the group’s opposition to issues like same sex marriage and the Safe Schools program

“You don’t just drive around the corner here at 10 o’clock at night and park a van loaded with gas cylinders and detonate it, unless you’re trying to send a message to the Australian Christian Lobby. I’m sure it’s a message to intimidate us and cause us to be silent in the public square.” Shelton said in December.

Since then the organisation has repetitively questioned the information given by the police regarding the incident.

Following Commissioner Colvin’s statement during the Senate Estimates hearing Shelton posted several messages to Twitter arguing that if the man was aware that the building was the home of the Australian Christian Lobby then it was a sign that he had chosen the spot.

“AFP reveals that bomber chose our office. We had been led by the police to believe the bombing was a random act.” Shelton said.

During the Senate Estimates Commitee Senator Derryn Hinch told the Commissioner that his sources had told him the man at the centre of the mystery was Vietnamese and self-immolation was his sole motive, and the ACL was not attacked.

“Large aspects of what you just said is well sourced,” Colvin said in response. The Commissioner  said reports that the man had flown to Canberra on the day of the attack were not true.

If you  are struggling with anxiety or depression, support and counseling are available from:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyondblue: 1300 22 4636 and www.beyondblue.org.au

QLife: 1800 184 527 and www.qlife.org.au

QLife are a counselling and referral service for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people.



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