Muslim cleric shot dead in Sydney
Australian commandos have stormed a cafe in Sydney, ending a 16-hour siege by a gunman identified as an Iranian refugee who took dozens of hostages.
Man Haron Monis, 50, who was on bail for being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife and was facing more than 40 sexual and indecent assault charges, was killed.
Two others died at the Lindt Chocolat Cafe, a 34-year-old man, a 38-year-old woman.
Early in the siege, hostages were forced to hold up a black Islamic banner at the window of the cafe.
Monis, according to this report, was born in Iran and sought political asylum in Australia in 1996.
The charges he was facing relate to time he allegedly spent as a self-proclaimed “spiritual healer” who dealt with so-called black magic at a premises in western Sydney.
Monis had previously been convicted of sending offensive letters to the families of deceased Australian soldiers.
However, he has no known links to jihadist groups, and commentators have suggested he is likely to be working alone.
Anne Aly, head of the counter terrorism research programme at Australia’s Curtin University, told the BBC:
Certainly this appears to be the actions of a lone actor, perhaps not very well prepared, perhaps not very well planned.
Monis, also known as Sheikh Haron and Mohammad Hassan Manteghi, wrote on his website that he used to be Shia but is no longer.
He denied the criminal charges against him, saying they were politically motivated. He compared the accusations of sexual assault against him to the case of Julian Assange, founder of the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks.
His website had been suspended by the time his identity was revealed in the media in connection with the siege.
Before the siege ended, Monis’ former lawyer, Manny Conditsis, told ABC News that Monis was an isolated figure.
His ideology is just so strong and so powerful that it clouds his vision for common sense and objectiveness.
Conditsis, who represented Monis last year when he was charged with being accessory to the murder of ex-wife Noleen Hayson Pal, said he thought the suspect might feel:
He’s got nothing to lose. Hence his participating in something as desperate and outrageous as this.