Police named the armed man who held 17 people hostage in a central Sydney café as “Sheikh” Man Haron Monis, a self-styled preacher of Islamic State on bail for accessory to murder.
Monis, 50, died at the end of a 16-hour siege at the Lindt cafe in Sydney’s Martin Place early on Tuesday morning.
But he was no stranger to Australian authorities.
Monis was born in Iran but moved to Australia in 1996 and was reportedly granted political asylum in 2001.
He first came to public notice in 2010 when he faced charges for sending offensive letters between 2007 and 2009 to the families of two Australian soldiers who died in Afghanistan – and the family of a trade official, Craig Senger, who died in the 2009 Jakarta bombing.
As a result, he was convicted of 12 counts of using a postal service to cause offence, ordered to perform 300 hours of community service and placed on a two-year good behaviour bond.
Monis was banned from sending similar letters to the relatives of British soldiers, but claimed in court at the time the condition was a breach of his freedom of speech.
Monis’ former lawyer Manny Conditsis describes him as a “damaged goods individual” with an ideology that clouds his common sense.
Monis was also accused of being an accessory to his ex-wife’s murder and faced charges on 40 offences relating to the indecent and sexual assault of several women in 2002.
He was granted bail and was set to reappear in court in February 2015.
Jamal Daoud who lives in Sydney’s west, told SBS he first met Man Haron Monis in 2008 at a rally on the wars surrounding the Middle East, and that meeting happened at Martin Place.
Mr Daoud, of the Social Justice Network, said on Tuesday he had been fielding calls from people today trying to connect the name to the man at the centre of Sydney’s siege.
He says some at that rally realised there were many things about what the 50-year old had told them that didn’t add up.
“A lot of my friends called me today to express their shock that this man who was pretending to be a community leader a religious man a mufti and religious leader could commit such horrendous crimes,” Mr Daoud said.
The hostage siege at Lindt Cafe in Martin Place has been given prominence on the front pages of newspapers in the United States where there is great sensitivity to any terrorist-related attacks. The siege in Sydney follows ‘the lone-wolf’ attack on Canada’s war memorial and parliament in Ottawa by an Islamic State sympathiser.
12:12am: Police continue to keep watch and maintain their positions outside the Lindt Chocolate Cafe.