A young Bangladeshi woman who stabbed an Australian man in the name of the Islamic State has lifted her niqab veil in court to plead guilty to intentionally engaging in a terrorist act, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.
Momena Shoma, 25, refused to stand in the dock when Australian Supreme Court justice Elizabeth Hollingworth entered the court on Thursday, but lifted her facial covering when the judge asked to confirm her identity.
She then pleaded guilty to engaging in a terrorist act, after she stabbed Roger Singaravelu on 9 February, as he napped next to his five-year-old daughter in the rumpus room of his Mill Park home.
Singaravelu woke when he felt piercing pain in his neck and was able to wrestle the kitchen knife off Shoma, before he dashed out of the room with his daughter and got help in the street.
Momena, a Bangladeshi national who came to Australia to study at La Trobe University only met Singaravelu the night before she attacked him, having moved into his family’s home to lodge, according to the New South Wales-based English-language daily.
She arrived in Australia at the start of February and spent her first week at another family’s home.
Momena was also charged with attempted murder but that charge was withdrawn.
Documents released by the court say she intentionally engaged in a terrorist act, with the motive of ‘‘advancing a political, religious or ideological cause, namely violent jihad’’.
She refused to stand when justice Hollingworth left the court and was remanded in custody to return to court for a plea hearing in January.
She put the veil back over her face after entering her plea.
Singaravelu was in court on Thursday, the Australian newspaper adds.
The day after the stabbing, Momena told police she attacked Singaravelu ‘‘because of, ah, the order of the Islamic State’’, according to a record of interview that was among documents released last month by Melbourne Magistrates Court.
She told detectives the terror organisation was calling on ‘‘everyone, even the woman. So I just felt obligated, and it was like a burden on me. Yeah, I just had to do it.
‘‘I had to do it ... it could have been anyone, it’s not specifically him. He just seemed like a very easy target since he was sleeping, so yeah, and I had to push myself. I wouldn’t even hurt a rat. This, I just felt like if I don’t do it I will be sinful, I will be punished by Allah.’’
Singaravelu told police he was having a nap next to his daughter on a mattress when he felt pain in his neck, and saw the woman he knew as Suma pushing a knife into him.
‘‘I thought that I was dreaming as I felt a sharp pain in my neck. I woke up and started screaming,’’ he said.
‘‘I saw Suma right next to me, she was on her knees with both of her hands on a knife that was in my neck.
‘‘Suma had such an intense look. Her eyes were so intense. She was saying ’Allah Akbar’, she kept on saying this over and over.’’ Singaravelu was later treated for a one-centimetre wound to his neck and cuts to his fingers.
He told police he heard a friend went inside the house and found Momena standing in the kitchen, where, according to the friend, she claimed ‘‘it was a mission and that she had to do what she had to do’’.
Momena told police she bore Singaravelu no personal grudge, but felt a ‘‘little bit burdenless’’ after the attack. She prepared for it by slashing a pillow at the other family’s home, and in the hours before the stabbing watched Islamic State propaganda videos which featured beheadings.
Asked by a detective whether she travelled to Australia to study or hurt someone in the name of Islamic State, she replied, ‘‘The later one.’’