Three Melbourne brothers have been charged by Victoria Police for imitating terrorists, faking bomb threats and drive-by shootings for a series of online prank videos.
The Jalal brothers, aged 16, 18 and 20, have been charged with public nuisance, possessing prohibited weapons and behaving in an offensive manner in public. Arman and Max, aged 18 and 20 respectively, have been released on bail to appear in court on 20 May, the younger brother has also been bailed to appear before a children’s court later. They have been released on the condition that they no longer film or publish any more videos or images.
The brothers donned fake beards and robes, then filmed a series of prank videos, imitating terrorists, that were published on Facebook and YouTube.
The charges arose after one such video of the three depicted them pointing fake AK47 machine guns and pretending to shoot at people throughout Melbourne.
And whilst one of the brothers, Arman, later admitted that their drive-by prank in particular was “messed up”, a Facebook post released just hours after their arrest expressed their dismay at being charged:
“So today we got arrested. 30 counterterrorist officers later, a search warrant & a 6-hour interview. Also, news headlines all over Australia. Was it really all worth it? When there’s worse things going on in the world, bigger crimes being committed. But Victoria Police targeted 3 Pranksters, that have not to this date harmed anyone, #overreaction #wasteofpolicetime #wastehistime2016.”
The brothers claim that their controversial comedy videos are merely childish pranks, and that police may be overreacting, even though they admit they may have gone too far with their latest stunt.
Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Ross Guenther doesn’t feel that the arrests were a waste of time and believes that the videos were more than just “childish pranks”.
And though the brothers may have begun by filming harmless comedy skits, the style and content of the videos escalated to the point where they grabbed the attention of police.
“Our response has been very much driven by the change in nature of those posts, the escalation in the type of content that’s been there,” he said. “It’s caused some significant alarm and anxiety in our community at a time when we already have a heightened security environment.”
“When the material was first identified they were less confronting. They’ve certainly escalated … and that’s why we’ve taken it on. The video suggests this type of behaviour is okay. It’s definitely not,” said Mr Guenther. “It’s criminal behaviour and that’s the way we’ll be proceeding with it.”
The brothers have promised to “tone it down a bit” in future and will stick to making comedy skits that won’t harm anyone.
Read more at www.abc.net.au
What do you think of these charges? Are the police well within their rights to send a message to these boys? Or do you think they may be overreacting?