COCK-UP DOWN UNDER
Brisbane, Australia, Dec 17, 2014 – The botched Sydney Siege this month has taught us no matter
how many anti-terrorist laws we make, how much more power we invest in gun-toting special police
in the end the real terror we face is the incompetence of our officials and government
agencies that are often blinded or ignorant to the obvious.
Two young people are dead in Sydney for these reasons. Four others are injured and one of the
most laid-back nations in the world will have to drop its ingrained belief ‘we are the lucky country.’
Like many megalomaniacs Man Haron Monis has been coveting the limelight all his life,
a search for recognition that he was someone the world should look up to. Religion gave him that
pedestal. It also gave him a mantle of respectability that influenced others in their dealings with him.
This year a magistrate freed him on bail despite charges he was an accessory to the murder of
his Australian wife and accusations of indecent assaults on forty women. Earlier police ignored an appeal by
the Iman of the Shiites in Australia to investigate and arrest Man Haron Monis as a fake cleric. Iran’s foreign
ministry repeatedly advised the Australian government Man Haron Monis was ‘unstable.’
All warnings and red signals were ignored and the man who grandly called himself Sheik
Haron walked into a café in central Sydney this month and held seventeen customers and staff
hostage with a shotgun. Two died, together with the terrorist, in the 2 a.m. shoot-out as police
‘sharp-shooters’ pumped bullets and stun grenades into the café for 38 seconds. Four people were
In the Australian vernacular the case would be called ‘an almighty cock-up’ though indignation
remains muted these days. After all too many branches of the nation - including the secret services and the
mass and State-media - are guilty of having fostered or protected a megalomaniac chameleon who was able
to adjust his rhetoric, his attire and his credo with the prevailing political winds.
Why Australia offered Man Haron Monis, aged 50, political asylum from Iran in 1996 remains a mystery
just as much as why the State-financed ABC television network in 2001 interviewed him as
‘Ayatollah Manteghi Boroujerdi, a liberal Iranian cleric who fled Iran where his family is held hostage.” His
anti-Iranian rants on TV served the political climate well at the time. But when he tried to preach in a
Shiite mosque the congregation threw him out after only three minutes.
Seeking the spot light as well as a home Sheik Haron changed his credo from Shiite to Sunni and
offered his services on the web as a private spiritual guide. He was married to an Australian woman and is
the father of two children. Early this year he was accused by forty different women that he had sexually
abused them, including at least one rape, during private séances he held with each one.
In April last year the fake Sheik’s Australian former wife was stabbed 17 times and her body
was burned. His current girlfriend, an Iranian, was charged with murder and he was charged with
being an accessory. But a magistrate allowed both of them bail because he felt the
prosecution’s case was ‘weak’ and both accused had alibis which the prosecution argued were
In 2009 Man Haron Monies had been sentenced to 300 hours of community service for writing poison
pen letters to the families of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan. Haron argued in court he was trying to
support the anti-war movement in Australia. But the movement obviously had no spot for him either.
Lately, as the radical ISIS Jihadist fighters advanced in Syria and Iraq Sheik Haron began to
voice his support for them. Hours before he entered the Café carrying a shotgun in a sports bag he
converted to an ISIS follower on his website and took with him a black flag with the white writings of the
Moslem oath of faith.
He had two hostages hold the flag to the window of the Café in downtown Sydney. But then he
apparently realized his mistake: It was not the flag of ISIS. So he asked for the Australian authorities through
a hostage to send him a genuine ISIS flag. He also demanded ‘a long private phone call’ with Prime Minister
Tony Abbott. He received neither. Australia does not make deals with terrorists.
But in reality was Sheik Haron (who had ordered the hostages to call him ‘Brother Haron’)
a terrorist or just a deranged human being who needed psychiatric help?
In the end, unwanted by all sides, exhausted by a 17-hour siege, Man Haron Monis, alias Sheikjh
Haron, alias Ayatollah Manteghi Boroujerdi, simply nodded off. He was awakened by his hostages
scampering to freedom. That’s when he ‘apparently’ started to shoot at them……and the police attacked.
As Australians brought flowers to the site where the two young people in the Sydney Siege were killed,
either by crossfire or the ‘terrorist’s’ shotgun pellets, they simultaneously mourned their faith that the gargantuan
new anti-terrorist legislations imposed by the pro-war rightwing Abbot government in recent
months will safeguard them against madmen and terrorists.
In the long run the intelligence of people to understand those mentally sick or misguided, or
those who need to be isolated for the safety of others, is more vital to our security than a series
of new laws giving more power to more incapable bureaucrats running already bloated
Uli Schmetzer is a former foreign correspondent for Reuters and the Chicago
Tribune and author of four books available on Amazon and Kindle. He has completed a novel on rendition and torture.