The Sydney café gunman had been the subject of an extradition request from Iran, used to be on a national security watchlist – and yet still held a legitimate Australian gun licence, it has been revealed.
Man Haron Monis, a 50-year-old self-styled “cleric”, took 17 people hostage for 16 hours on Monday before the siege was broken in a blaze of gunfire. Two hostages died, along with Monis himself.
Monis grew up in Iran as Mohammad Hassan Manteghi. According to Iranian police, he established a travel agency in 1996 but defrauded his clients and fled with their money to Australia via Malaysia.
Officials told the country's official IRNA news agency that Iran tried to have Monis extradited in 2000, but that Australia refused on the grounds that the countries do not have an extradition agreement.
Tony Abbott, the Australian Prime Minister, also revealed on Wednesday that Monis had been flagged up on the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation's watchlist in 2008 and 2009 over a series of offensive letters he sent to the families of dead Australian soldiers.
“I don't know why he dropped off the watch list in those days, I really don't,” he told reporters.
Mr Abbott detailed Monis’ convictions in relation to those letters, his charge of being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife and his charge earlier this year with the sexual assault of a woman in 2002.
He promised an immediate investigation into how such a “deeply disturbed” individual was not only free on bail but also entitled to own a gun.
"We particularly need to know 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,” Mr Abbott said.
Monis took the café with a shotgun, and Mr Abbott said: “Plainly there are questions to be asked when someone with such a history of infatuation with extremism, violent crime and mental instability should be in possession of a gun licence.
“We have very tough gun laws and I guess we can be pleased that he didn't have a more potent weapon at his disposal. But why did he have a gun licence in the first place?”
Monis had appeared in court just three days before the attack for his unsuccessful appeal against the convictions for sending the letters, and New South Wales state police commissioner Andrew Scipione said police had asked that Monis not be granted bail, but that the court ruled otherwise.
“We were concerned that this man got bail from the very beginning,” Mr Scipione said.
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