Man Haron Monis, also known as Mohammed Hassan Manteghi, the Muslim cleric that took 17 people hostage in a cafe in Sydney, Australia Monday “for Islam and for peace,” reportedly had had dozens of previous run-ins with the law. Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Wednesday that Monis had been on the Australian Security Intelligence Organization’s watch list in 2008 & 2009 but was removed from it for reasons that are not yet clear.
Monis, originally from Iran, was exposed as a scam artist before becoming a “refugee” to Australia. According to Prime Minister Abbott, Monis was then granted permanent residency in Australia, a gun license, and welfare benefits he had been living off of for years, even though as Abbott said he was “able-bodied, if not necessarily of sound mind.” Abbott said he intends to find out how Monis had been able to obtain all of this.
“I share the exasperation of the Australian public at what appears to be someone who’s been having a lend of us, for many years,”
the Prime Minister told a Canberra news conference this afternoon.
Abbott told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the system had fallen far short in this case.
“There’s no doubt about that, and this is why we’ve got to constantly learn the lessons of everything that happens. We’ve got to to be constantly asking ourselves: Is this the best we can do? And frankly, we’ve got to always be better at this because if we aren’t good at this, our people suffer. And the tragedy of this atrocity is that two delightful Australians, two very decent people, are dead. Others are injured. Others are traumatized because of a madman who was roaming the streets.”
The two hostages that were killed along with the terrorist reportedly died being heroes. Witnesses say that Tori Johnson, 34, the cafe manager, grabbed the terrorist’s gun when it went off and killed him. The incident that cost Johnson his life saved the lives of all the other hostages except Katrina Dawson, 38 years old and mother of three, who allegedly died shielding her pregnant friend from the gunfire.
Monis had apparently been in court for writing atrocious letters to families of Australian soldiers that died in the line of duty between 2007 & 2009 in Afghanistan, comparing them to “Hitler’s soldiers.” He was convicted last year. The terrorist also described himself publicly and on various websites as being “persecuted by the government” for his political views and claimed he had been tortured in prison for those same views.
Monis was charged with accessory to murder in the brutal killing of his ex-wife. Police say they also have dozens of incidents on file of women claiming to have been sexually assaulted by the terrorist.
Although Monis had a firearms license, police in New South Wales claim they have no record of it. Abbott said in a statement that Monis had had
“a long history of mental illness and violence”
“why he wasn’t being monitored, given his history of violence, his history of mental instability, and his history of infatuation with extremism.”
“we do have to ask ourselves the question: ‘Could it have been prevented?'”
Abbott also questioned
“how someone with such a long record of violence and such a long record of mental instability was out on bail after his involvement in a particularly horrific crime.”
New South Wales police responded, saying they had requested that bail not be an option for Monis but were overruled by the court, according to an Associated Press report.
Thousands gathered today to leave cards and flowers in honor of the two hostages killed. A small group of Muslims also gathered to mourn their “brother.”