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The ABC understands one of the boys was questioned two years ago by New South Wales Police and the Australian Federal Police over an incident at his school.

It is understood that incident involved him refusing to stand for the national anthem at the morning assembly of his school — East Hills Boys High School – in June 2014 when the boy was 14.

When questioned why he would not stand for the national anthem, the boy said “he only stands for God”, “does not respect this country” and “this country sends troops to Afghanistan to kill our men and rape our women”.


The news of sixteen-year-olds plotting terrorism is frightening. But just as frightening, buried in today’s story of the arrests, is the report that police were called to a school two years ago because one of the suspects would not stand for the national anthem. I cannot imagine a better way to radicalise a fourteen-year-old. It’s disturbing that he doesn’t respect Australia, the country he lives in, although it’s unsurprising that he’s upset about Australia’s involvement in disastrous wars overseas. It’s disruptive when people won’t stand for the national anthem. And this boy has gone on to plan violence. But however we regard it, refusing to stand for the national anthem itself must never be a police matter. When it becomes one, we are living in a dystopia. In the “war on terror” we are losing the very freedom we are meant to be fighting for.