Fact Check: Benjamin Cohen Was NOT Sydney Mall Attacker -- He Was Wrongly Linked To Mass Stabbing By Social Media

Fact Check

  • by: Uliana Malashenko
Fact Check: Benjamin Cohen Was NOT Sydney Mall Attacker -- He Was Wrongly Linked To Mass Stabbing By Social Media Misidentified

Did Australian law enforcement identify a Sydney mall attacker as "Benjamin Cohen"? No, that's not true: The police said that the man's name was Joel Cauchi. The claim originated from an account on X that self-identifies as aligned with a Russian state information outlet.

The story reappeared in a post (saved here) on Facebook where it was published on April 13, 2024. It opened:

Do you still want to blame Muslims? He died as terrorist, and the attacker was identified as Benjamin Cohen, a radical Jew from Bondi. Dont fall for far right lies and propaganda.
So heartbreaking 💔 for those families. Thoughts and prayers with you all ❤️
THE AUSTRALIA BONDI ATTACKER HAS BEEN REPORTED TO BE A JEWISH TERRORIST BENJAMIN COHEN who stabs 7 people to death in Australia and suddenly everybody stops talking about it. Meanwhile The rumor from a Zionist media that it was an "islamist" spread like wildfire and now nobody really protesting about the terrorism

This is what it looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Screen Shot 2024-04-14 at 11.45.14 AM.png

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Sun Apr 14 11:45:14 2024 UTC)

On April 13, 2024, a man fatally stabbed six people (archived here) at Westfield Shopping Centre at Bondi Junction in Sydney, Australia (archived here), and was shot by law enforcement.

Contrary to the claim on Facebook, the police identified (archived here) the attacker as Joel Cauchi, 40. As reported by the Guardian (archived here), the authorities found no evidence linking him to any particular ideology or terrorist organization.

Benjamin Cohen is a 20-year-old computer science student, not the Sydney mall attacker. Talking to local journalists from News.com.au (archived here), Cohen said:

...you've got the wrong guy... People don't really think too hard about what they're posting and how it might affect someone. It's very dangerous how people could just make stuff up and destroy people's lives.

The post on Facebook that is the focus of this fact check showed the name of a different account - @AussieCossack - typed vertically in white over a screenshot of what appears to be CCTV footage. A user with that handle on X, had posted (saved here) the same claim earlier, citing "unconfirmed reports" as a source.

Aussie Cossack's profile (saved here) on X said that he "broadcasts" for Sputnik News, a Russian state-sponsored propaganda outlet. He is also known as Simeon Boikov (archived here), a pro-Putin and anti-vaccination conspiracy theorist wanted by the Australian police on warrants for an assault conviction and a revocation of parole.

Other Lead Stories fact checks discussing international stories can be found here.

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  Uliana Malashenko

Uliana Malashenko is a New York-based freelance writer and fact checker.

Read more about or contact Uliana Malashenko

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