As Australia mourns two hostages killed in a Sydney cafe yesterday, many are wondering what gunman Man Haron Monis was doing on the streets in the first place. The Iranian-born cleric, who was killed when police commandos stormed the cafe, was on bail for around 50 counts of sexual and indecent assault and for charges of being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife. The 31-year-old mother of two was stabbed repeatedly and set on fire with the use of lighter fluid last April, allegedly by Monis' girlfriend. The crime happened in an apartment stairwell. More:
- Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the government will look into why the 50-year-old was out on bail and why he did not appear on the country's terrorist watch list, the BBC reports. "How can someone who has had such a long and checkered history not be on the appropriate watch lists, and how can someone like that be entirely at large in the community?" he wondered at a press conference today. "These are questions that we need to look at carefully and calmly and methodically."
- Just three days before he walked into the cafe with a gun and took 17 people hostage, Monis had failed in an attempt to overturn a conviction for sending "grossly offensive" letters to the families of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. The country's High Court rejected his application to hear a fresh constitutional challenge to the charges against him, for which he was sentenced to 300 hours of community service.
- Monis, who declared himself to be a sheikh and a "spiritual healer," was seen as a "fringe figure" in Sydney's Islamic community, according to a Guardian profile. Shia Muslim leaders had asked police to probe his claims to be a leading cleric and last week, he announced on his website that he had converted to Sunni Islam and pledged allegiance to ISIS.
- The lawyer who represented Monis in the murder case tells the Australian Broadcasting Company that his client, who came to the country as a refugee in 1996, may have thought he had "nothing to lose," hence "participating in something as desperate and outrageous as this." He says that while in prison, Monis suffered some "very unpleasant events, involving matters of excrement over himself and his cell," and he is certain that the siege was the act of a "one-off random individual," not an organized terrorist group.
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