Falsehoods spread about identity of Bondi attacker

What was Claimed

The man behind the Bondi Junction Westfield rampage has been identified as a Jewish or Islamic terrorist.

Our Verdict

False. Police have said the attack is not terrorism-related or linked to any ideology.

 Falsehoods about the identity and motives of the man who stabbed at least six people to death in Sydney’s Bondi Junction Westfield shopping centre are continuing to be spread online.

NSW Police named him as 40-year-old Queenslander Joel Cauchi. Investigators have said they do not believe the attack was terrorism-related or linked to any ideology.

Queensland Police say Cauchi had been diagnosed with a mental illness when he was a teenager and that his mental health had declined in recent years.

However, various social media posts have falsely claimed the attack was ideological or that he has been identified as either a Jewish or Islamic extremist. 

Several posts incorrectly identified the perpetrator as a man with a Jewish surname.

Bondi attacker misinfo
Posts have claimed the man was a Jewish extremist

“Still want to blame Muslims as a terrorist,” one post reads. “The attacker has been identified as ... a radical Jew from Bondi.”

This post describes him as a “Jewish terrorist”.

Dozens of other posts make similar false claims here, here, here, here and here.

As a result, a Sydney university student received abusive messages on social media after the attack.

The student told The Australian newspaper the situation had been "highly distressing" for him and his family.

Many users have also claimed the attacker has been identified as a Muslim and/or an Islamic extremist. Many posts point to Bondi being popular with Sydney’s Jewish community.

Bondi attacker falsehoods
A UK journalist and commentator told her followers the man was an Islamic terrorist.

This X post claims without evidence the man was a “knife-wielding #Muslim” while British far-right activist Tommy Robinson appears in this video stating “jihad has no borders.”

British journalist and broadcaster Julia Hartley-Brewer told her nearly half a million followers on X that the attacker had been identified as a Muslim extremist.

“Another day. Another terror attack by another Islamist terrorist,” she posted. 

“How long do our governments think we're going to put up with this?”

Dozens of posts make similar claims here, here, here and here.

Other posts said the perpetrator was an “asylum seeker” here, here and here.

Cauchi grew up in Toowoomba, west of Brisbane, and had spent recent years sleeping in his car and at backpacker hostels.

At the time of writing, seven people are dead, including Cauchi who was shot by police. Several others are in hospital.

The Verdict

The claim that the man behind the Bondi Westfield rampage has been identified as a Jewish or Islamic terrorist is false.

Police have named the man as 40-year-old Queenslander Joel Cauchi.

They have said that it is not thought the attack was terrorism-related or linked to any ideology.

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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