A Melbourne father has told of the terrifying moment a burqa-clad woman, police say was inspired by ISIS, screamed “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) and allegedly plunged a knife into his neck as he slept.
The attack goes to the heart of concerns the Australian Conservatives have long held about our high levels of immigration from countries where this kind of behaviour is commonplace.
The Herald Sun reports Roger Singaravelu had agreed to host a 24-year-old Bangladeshi student at his Mill Park home when told she had nowhere else to go. But he said just two days later, on February 9, he was attacked in front of his daughter, aged just 5.
Speaking of the ordeal for the first time, he said: “I felt a sharp pain in my neck and woke up to see (her) leaning over me with a kitchen knife in her hand. She was screaming ‘Allahu Akbar’ while stabbing me in the neck.
“I reactively grabbed on to the knife and fought (her) off. My daughter was screaming nearby, and I told her to run and hide.
“There was blood everywhere. I ran outside with my daughter and got the attention of neighbours, who assisted me.”
56-year-old Mr Singaravelu is now taking legal action against the Australian Homestay Network, which organised the student’s placement.
“This incident has had devastating effects on our family and dampened our trust,” Mr Singaravelu said.
“Our daughter is traumatised. She continues to experience nightmares and flashbacks, and requires psychological treatment.
“She still sees blood on the wall and asks me to clean it off, although there is nothing there.”
Mr Singaravelu suffered a crushed vertebra and deep cuts to his fingers in the attack.
The family say they opened their home after the AHN contacted them urgently on the morning of February 7 to say the Bangladeshi student had nowhere else to stay.
Mr Singaravelu’s wife, Maha, said: “I felt for her, being in a foreign country. I put myself in her shoes and her parents’ shoes ... I agreed to host her for a short time.”
“Before the incident, she stayed with us for a couple of days. She was very pleasant to deal with. She even offered to babysit our daughter if we ever went out.”
Momena Shoma has been charged by the Victorian Joint Counter-Terrorism Team, made up of officers from the Australian Federal Police, Victoria Police and ASIO, with one count of engaging in a terrorist act, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Days after the stabbing, Ms Shoma’s younger sister was arrested for stabbing a police officer in Bangladesh.
She is understood to have told Bangladesh police the siblings were members of an ISIS-inspired terror group called “Neo-JMB”.
Ms Shoma is next due to appear before Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on May 2.
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