The siege in Wieambilla, near the remote inland Queensland town of Chinchilla, that claimed the lives of two police officers and an innocent bystander has been labelled a “religiously-motivated terrorist attack” by Queensland Police. Deputy Police Commissioner Tracy Linford said the force had combed through 190 statements and the lives of the Train family and concluded that the trio subscribed to the “Christian extremist ideology” and had radicalised themselves in isolation.
“Nathaniel, Gareth, and Stacey Train acted as an autonomous cell and executed a religiously-motivated terrorist attack,” Linford told reporters on Feb. 16. “The Train family members subscribe to what we would call a broad Christian fundamentalist belief system known as pre-millennialism—it’s a belief system that comes from Christian theology,” she said. “Christian extremist ideology has been linked to other attacks around the world, but this is the first time we’ve seen it appear in Australia.”
Linford added that the Trains also subscribed to parts of the sovereign citizen movement, but at the same time, could not be classified as falling under this category. Queensland Police were assisted by the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation in their investigations.
Linford said a U.S. citizen, named Don, was deemed a person of interest in the case after the individual was found to have posted videos online before and after the attack referring to the Trains. Australian authorities noted they had contacted U.S. authorities over the issue.
The attack took place on Dec. 12, when four police officers were called to investigate a routine missing person report for Nathaniel Train at a property on Wains Rd. Two young constables, Matthew Arnold and Rachel McCrow, were hit with a “hail of gunshots” as they jumped a fence to access the house. A neighbour, 58-year-old Alan Dare, was also gunned down and shot in the back after going out to investigate. The three assailants were wearing camouflaged clothing, had erected barriers, and had prepared a range of weaponry, including six firearms, compound bows and arrows, as well as knives.
The head of Australia’s domestic spy agency, ASIO, Director-General Mike Burgess, recently said the agency’s caseload was taken up largely by “religiously motivated extremists,” noting that those linked with Sunni Islam were the “principal concern in the terrorism space.” Burgess noted that the biggest threat now was radicalised individuals who would resort to violence with little to no warning.
Burgess also said that Australia had seen a reduction in the threat levels of violent extremism, which had dropped by 20 percent since the federal government and state governments rolled back COVID lockdowns and restrictions. He said that right-wing extremism accounted for 50 percent of the agency’s caseload but had dropped to 30 percent since lockdowns and mandates eased.