Baseless conspiracies label Bondi attack a false flag event

What was Claimed

The Bondi Junction Westfield massacre was a false flag operation.

Our Verdict

False. The evidence cited in the claims does not stack up. There is no credible evidence to support the claim.

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Within hours of the Sydney shopping centre stabbing massacre, social media users were claiming the incident was a false flag event.

False flag events are political or military actions staged to push an agenda or to blame another party.

They are commonly claimed by conspiracy theorists, with September 11, the Sandy Hook massacre and the October 7 Hamas attack all incorrectly labelled as such.

Conspiracy theorists in the US commonly claim mass shootings are false flag events staged to push moves for stricter gun laws.

However, as with the above examples, there is no credible evidence the Bondi attack was a false flag event.

False flag 1
Several posts suggest a lack of blood indicates a false flag operation.

Five women and a man were killed by knife-wielding Joel Cauchi in the rampage at Bondi Junction Westfield on Saturday.

Cauchi was shot dead after killing Ashlee Good, 38, Dawn Singleton, 25, Jade Young, 47, Pikria Darchia, 55, Yixuan Cheng, 27, and 30-year-old Faraz Tahir.

Dozens of posts claim it was a false flag operation, with various supposed objectives cited.

This post (archived here) suggested the attack was staged in a bid to help push through new police stop and search laws.

Several posts link Saturday's killings to the government's proposed digital ID legislation, examples here, here and here.

Others suggest it was part of a push to tighten shopping centre security measures, for example, here.

"I suspect there will be a reason of (sic) tightening security measures like a biometrics smart entry system or some digital ID bulls***," one user claimed.

Other posts suggest it could be linked to the government's proposed Misinformation and Disinformation Bill 2023.

Police at Bondi Junction after the mass stabbing (file image)
There is no evidence to suggest the mass stabbing was staged.

However, the supposed evidence to support the claims does not stand up to scrutiny.

One of the common themes of "evidence" regards the scene following the attack, particularly the supposed lack of blood. 

"Sloppy," one Facebook user posted. "False flag attack…bad acting, no blood - no real footage."

This is false, as graphic images and videos taken inside the shopping centre confirm.

Other posts feature a blurred close-up of Cauchi's body moments after he was shot, claiming there are no signs of injuries.

"So after ya stabbed 9 people and shot dead yourself, maybe you'd have at least a spec of blood on you," one post reads.

However, wider shots of a slain Cauchi clearly show a significant amount of blood on the shopping centre floor next to him.

Several other posts (examples here, here and here) point to footage of a police officer performing CPR on one of the stabbing victims as evidence.

"Righto, so the police officer stands over a stabbed victim, shows no urgency at all, then proceeds to perform CPR on his stomach..Looks real legitimate people," this post reads.

False flag 2
The posts are spreading in Australia and overseas.

However, the video clearly shows the officer performing CPR with her hands in the correct position, on the lower half of a person's breastbone.

Other videos (here) point to a Nine News interview (1min 20sec) from outside the shopping centre shortly after the attack. 

The interview features two men who helped save a nine-month-old baby who was attacked alongside her mother, Ashlee Good.

They describe how the 38-year-old, who later died, handed them her child. They said they tried to stem the flow of blood before paramedics arrived.

"They said 'there was blood everywhere'…but miraculously, after stemming the blood flow there is not a drop of blood anywhere to be seen on them or their clothes," this post reads.

However, the men explained in the interview that they used shirts from a nearby shop to stop the bleeding.

"We just kept yelling out to get some clothes, get some shirts and just help us to compress and stop the baby from bleeding," one of the men said (2min 34sec).

While investigations are still ongoing, police have said 40-year-old Cauchi suffered significant mental illness.

Cauchi's father, Andrew, told reporters on Monday that his son had a "fascination" with knives. 

He said that only last year, he confiscated five US Army combat knives when he came to stay with them.

Investigators are looking into whether he may have targeted women but are yet to pinpoint a motive.

When asked if he suspected his son had targeted women, Mr Cauchi said: "Yes, because he wanted a girlfriend, and he has no social skills and he was frustrated out of his brain."

The Verdict

The claim that the Bondi Junction Westfield massacre was a false flag operation is false.

The evidence cited does not stand up to scrutiny. There is no credible evidence to suggest the incident was staged.

Cauchi’s family has said he had a fascination with knives and suffered from severe mental illness.

False - The claim is inaccurate.

AAP FactCheck is an accredited member of the International Fact-Checking Network. To keep up with our latest fact checks, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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