There was some consternation on Twitter yesterday about the validity of the Sydney “lone wolf” terrorist’s allegiances. Twitter could not figure out whether he was holding hostages in a chocolate shop because he was “legitimately” part of ISIS, or whether he just happend to get bad service and was merely fed up with the holiday season and taking it out on corporate chocolate hegemony. After all, social media couldn’t tell if he had a real ISIS flag of just the slightly-less-threatening “Shahada flag,” an “expression of Islamic faith.” Considering he was taking hostages, that argument was basically splitting hairs, but it takes a lot for the media to speak with authority on religions these days. Or something.
The seige has, apparently, ended, with most hostages being freed. Reports seem to indicate that two people are dead and five are injured, but most hostages were released unharmed. Reports also seem to have cleared up who was responsible for the attack and stand-off: police believe the perpetrator is “Sheik Haron Monis,” a self-styled Iranian cleric out on bail after an arrest over his alleged involvement in his wife’s murder, along with approximately 40 other sexual offenses, and known to authorities for his habit of sending hate mail to the families of Australian servicemen and women.
Born Manteghi Bourjerdi, the 49-year-old extremist left Iran for Australia in 1996 and adopted various names before settling on Sheik Haron Monis. Already well-known to police, Monis is currently on bail until February next year for more than 40 sexual offences.
His accusers said posted a newspaper advert claiming to be an expert who specialised in astrology, numerology, meditation and black magic, but used his meetings with the women to sexually and indecently assault them, claiming his groping was key to his practice of ‘spiritual healing’.
Monis has previously been investigated for sending vile hate letters to the families of Australian soldiers killed by insurgents in Afghanistan, and was last November accused of being an accessory to murder of his ex-wife after her body was found badly burned and suffering knife wounds.
Calling himself ‘The Brother’, Monis this morning held staff and customers hostage in a Sydney chocolate shop in what experts roundly believe to be a so-called ‘lone wolf’ attack.
While he was widely known as a practicing Shia Muslim, Monis is believed to have converted to Sunni Islam just last month when he posted a message on his now-suspended website rejecting Shiism and pledging allegiance to the Islamic State’s terrorist leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Officers have confirmed Monis’s identity from a news video. Monis’s lawyer says he believes that Monis is not part of a larger terror network and, in this case, is acting alone. Last month, on his website, Monis, however, allegedly posted a message announcing his conversion to Sunni Islam and pledging his allegiance to ISIS. ISIS also recently signed out Australia as their preferred location for “lone wolf” attacks, urging followers in Australia to plan their own terrorist activities and not discuss them openly with other potential partners.