ASIO had fears a radicalised Melbourne teen was considering targeting Tony Abbott, an AFL game and a military base before he was shot dead in 2014 after stabbing two police.
Numan Haider, 18, told an associate he would “do it soon”, a senior ASIO officer told an inquest into the young man’s death, though she conceded Australia’s domestic spy agency did not know what “it” was.
ASIO had no information of a specific threat to the then prime minister, but it was concerned Haider may commit a politically motivated attack, said the officer giving evidence on Wednesday under the pseudonym Natalie Mayfair.
In the weeks before he was killed, Haider conducted internet searches for “firecrackers wrapped with metal sheet”, “Tony Abbott next visit to Victoria” and “Holsworthy military base”.
He also googled “AFL football”, which Ms Mayfair said was an unusual search for him.
Haider was shot in the head outside the Endeavour Hills police station after he stabbed a Victoria Police officer and an Australian Federal Police officer attached to the Joint Counter Terror Team on September 23, 2014.
One officer, known for legal reasons as Officer B, suffered shoulder and chest wounds and facial lacerations.
He has told the inquest he thought Haider was going to cut his head off.
The JCTT officers were attempting to interview Haider to gather intelligence and disrupt his plans.
An ASIO caseworker assigned to Haider, who gave evidence under the pseudonym Julie Carrington, said he came to the intelligence agency’s attention in May 2014.
ASIO monitored him through phone intercepts after noticing a high volume of contact with a particular phone number.
He had visited the Al-Furqan mosque where extreme forms of Islam were sometimes discussed, the inquest heard.
“ISIL strongly appealed to Numan,” Ms Carrington told the inquest.
“He wanted to travel to Syria to fight.”
She and another ASIO officer went to Haider’s home on July 31 to interview him.
“He denied supporting ISIL but said one of his friends did,” Ms Carrington said.
His behaviour began to escalate in July and August of that year.
Ms Mayfair said ASIO met with police three times in the week before Haider’s death to share intelligence and find out what police could do about the teen.
“I recall stating Numan’s recent activities and suggested he was on a trajectory towards more extreme behaviour,” she said.
She would not allow ASIO officers to interview Haider again because she believed he had obtained at least one knife and had sought to obtain several weapons including a Taser.
“I had safety concerns for my officers,” Ms Mayfair told the inquest.
“Police are better trained to handle approaching people carrying weapons.”
The inquest continues before coroner John Olle.