US man arrested for ‘religiously motivated’ attack in Australia

Investigators in the US and Australia say the 58-year-old incited ‘terror attack’ in which six people died last year.

police tape at a crime scene in Australia
The incident took place at a remote property in Wieambilla, Queensland [File: David Gray/Reuters]

An American citizen has been arrested and charged in the US state of Arizona for online comments that allegedly incited a “religiously motivated terrorist attack” in Australia a year ago in which six people died.

Police in the state of Queensland, Australia, confirmed on Wednesday that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested a 58-year-old near Heber-Overgaard, Arizona on December 1. They did not disclose his name.

The attack took place at a remote property in Wieambilla, Queensland, on December 12, 2022, when two police officers and a bystander were fatally shot by Gareth Train, his brother Nathaniel and Nathaniel’s wife Stacey in an ambush at the Trains’ property, according to investigators.

Four officers had arrived at the property to investigate reports of a missing person. They walked into a hail of gunfire, police said at the time. Two officers managed to escape and raise the alarm.

The Trains engaged in an hours-long gun battle with the police before they were eventually shot dead.

“We know the offenders executed a religiously motivated terrorist attack in Queensland. They were motivated by a Christian extremist ideology,” Queensland police assistant commissioner Cheryl Scanlon told reporters.

The FBI is still investigating the American’s alleged motive.

Gareth Train began following the suspect on YouTube in May 2020. A year later, they were communicating directly, according to investigators.

“The man repeatedly sent messages containing Christian end-of-days ideology to Gareth and then later to Stacey,” Scanlon said.

A representative of the FBI in Australia, Nitiana Mann, said the arrest was the result of a joint investigation between the two countries.

“The FBI has a long memory and an even longer reach. From Queensland, Australia, to the remote corners of Arizona,” Mann said.

Investigators in both nations “worked jointly and endlessly to bring this man to justice, and he will face the crimes he is alleged to have perpetrated”, she added.

Gun crimes are rare in Australia because the country has some of the world’s most stringent gun laws, following a shooting in April 1996 when a gunman killed 35 people at a cafe and tourist site in the island state of Tasmania.

Source: News Agencies