'E4E' carved in Australian soldier's head during alleged attack by ISIS supporter

The NSW teen ISIS supporter who allegedly carved an Islamic State slogan into the forehead of a former Australian soldier in a NSW prison should never have been in the same cell as the ex-digger.

Maximum security inmate Bourhan Hraichie, 18, is alleged to have carved 'e4e' into the head of 40-year-old Michael Sean O’Keefe on Thursday afternoon at Kempsey prison.

Maximum security inmate Bourhan Hraichie, 18, is alleged to have carved 'e4e' into the head of a cellmate on Thursday afternoon at Kempsey prison. Photo: 7 News
Maximum security inmate Bourhan Hraichie, 18, is alleged to have carved 'e4e' into the head of a cellmate on Thursday afternoon at Kempsey prison. Photo: 7 News

He belted the former digger with coaxial cable in their shared cell before choking him with it.

He then poured boiling water over his face, broke his sternum and carved the IS slogan into the front and back of his head.

That slogan is an apparent reference to Islamic State's "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" mantra.


NSW Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin has since told media that Hraichie should have been in a high-risk management correctional centre and not sharing a cell with the low security inmate.

"If you are radicalised and at risk of engaging in violent extremism, you need to be locked up," Mr Severin said.

"You need to be very highly controlled."

The attack “appears to have had a strong fundamentalist element to it”, he said on Sunday, adding that it was a "serious mistake" for the two to have been paired up together.

“I am appalled that these two inmates were placed in the same cell.

A spokesman for the Public Sector Association said Hraichie should have been placed in segregation and the department had failed to take the extremist's views seriously.

"The 18-year-old, in our belief, had presented enough information and bad behaviour to have been segregated, or at the very least, been put in a single cell," spokesman Steve McMahon said.

“Had the information been passed on to senior officers and been dealt with correctly this would have been avoided.

“None of these things were done by management and he had certainly presented enough evidence he’s either a supporter or would be a participant.”

The brutal attack comes after Corrective Services has denied for close to 12 months there had been any issue around extremism in NSW prisons. Source: 7 News
The brutal attack comes after Corrective Services has denied for close to 12 months there had been any issue around extremism in NSW prisons. Source: 7 News

A full investigation into the management of radicalised prisoners will also be launched.

Corrections Minister David Elliott said he was outraged by the alleged attack.

"I will ask the Inspector of Custodial Services for a full and thorough investigation of the management of radicalised prisoners in the system, including the assault," Mr Elliott said.

The former digger was rushed to the Port Macquarie Base Hospital and put in an induced coma, believed to have suffered a broken sternum and severe wounds to his neck, head and face. Source: 7 News
The former digger was rushed to the Port Macquarie Base Hospital and put in an induced coma, believed to have suffered a broken sternum and severe wounds to his neck, head and face. Source: 7 News

NSW Opposition MP Guy Zangari also described the prison's mistake as shocking.

“Management has placed the life of this minimum security inmate at risk by placing him in with this maximum security inmate,” he said on Monday.

Greg Steele, the manager of the prison, has been stood down as the former soldier, who served in East Timor, fights for his life after the brutal attack.

"I have decided to suspend the general manager of the correctional centre pending the outcome of this investigation," NSW Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin told reporters in Sydney on Sunday.

The pair were placed together at Kempsey prison’s maximum security section, on the state’s Mid North Coast on Thursday morning, just a few hours before the unprovoked attack.

It is believed the 18-year-old attacker choked the 40-year-old and carved ‘e4e’ into the front and back of the victim's head.

The teen then allegedly placed a towel over him and poured boiling hot water on him.

The former Toowoomba-based soldier was rushed to the Port Macquarie Base Hospital and put in an induced coma, believed to have suffered a broken sternum and severe wounds to his neck, head and face.

The teenage attacker reportedly had a hand-drawn ISIS flag inside his cell and had been previously caught sending images of beheadings to other extremists serving time at Goulburn’s Supermax.

Mr McMahon said Corrective Services has denied for close to 12 months that there had been any issue around extremism in NSW prisons.

“If they choose the model of clustering inmates who demonstrate this type of behaviour that they provide staff with the correct training and put in place the correct security regimes to achieve safe results,” he said.

The attack came after a Sunday Telegraph report in October that IS supporters threatened to behead NSW Corrective Services staff and inmates who do not convert to radical Islam inside jails.

The teen ISIS supporter has since been charged with causing grievous bodily harm and moved out of Kempsey jail.

He will face Kempsey Local Court on May 23.

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