15 Dec 2014

Who was Sydney gunman Man Haron Monis?

Self-styled sheikh Man Haron Monis, an Iranian refugee, is the gunman who was killed after taking hostages in Sydney. Here’s what we know about him.

Man Haron Monis, also known as Sheikh Haron and formerly Manteghi Boroujerdi, was named by Australian authorities as the lone-gunman who held several people hostage in a café in Sydney’s central business district.

Message of ‘peace’

Monis posted the following on his website on the same day he entered the Sydney café: “Islam is the religion of peace, that’s why Muslims fight against the oppression and terrorism of USA and its allies including UK and Australia.

“If we stay silent towards the criminals we cannot have a peaceful society. The more you fight with crime, the more peaceful you are.

“Islam wants peace on the Earth, that’s why Muslims want to stop terrorism of America and its allies. When you speak out against crime you have taken one step towards peace.”

Convert to Sunni Islam

Monis, an Iranian refugee and former self-styled Shia cleric living in southwest Sydney, was 50 years old and had been living in Australia since 1996. He is believed to have recently converted to Sunni Islam after posting “I used to be a Rafidi, but not anymore. Now I am a Muslim, Alhamdu Lillah” on his website earlier this month.

Monis, along with his current partner Amirah Droudis, was arrested and charged as an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife, mother of two Noleen Hayson Pal, late last year.

Pal was stabbed and set alight on the staircase of her apartment in Sydney but both Monis and Droudis were released on bail after the case was deemed “weak” by magistrates.

Offensive letters

Monis and Droudis gained notoriety in Australia after sending numerous offensive letters to the grieving families of seven Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan within days of their deaths between 2007 and 2009.

He pleaded guilty to 12 charges relating to the malicious letters after a four-year legal battle to have the charges thrown out. He was sentenced to 300 hours of community service in September 2013.

After Monis’s guilty plea he spoke outside court and said: “From now on when I want to advise people not to kill children I should do it by hand delivery, not by using postal service!”

Sex crime charges

Monis was also arrested by Australian sex crimes squad detectives in April and charged with the indecent and sexual assault of a 27 year-old woman at his property in 2002.

During a recent court appearance in October 2014 he was charged with a further 40 sexual offences, including 22 counts of aggravated sexual assault and 14 counts of aggravated indecent assault relating to six other women.

Police allege that Monis was operating as a self-proclaimed “spiritual healer” at the time of the alleged offences.

He was on bail for these offences and was due to appear in court in relation to indecent and sexual assault charges in February.