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Inquest Into Sydney Cafe Attack Learns Of Terrorist’s Secret Life

A self-styled cleric who launched a deadly attack on a cafe in Sydney, Australia, last year led a complex and secretive life, an inquest has heard.
Man Haron Monis also made “grandiose” claims about being persecuted in the country of his birth, Iran.

The inquest, which began in January, is examining the circumstances of the December siege in which Monis took 18 people hostage.
The stand-off ended when police stormed the Lindt cafe in Martin Place.
Monis and two hostages died.

Isolated Existence

The inquest, which has resumed after several months’ break, will call more than 100 witnesses and examine the deaths of hostages Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson, as well as Monis.
It will run for several months and the findings will be delivered by the State Coroner Michael Barnes in early 2016.
The first two weeks will focus on Monis and his background.

Monis, who arrived in Australia in 1996, lived a “relatively isolated” life in Australia, according to Counsel Assisting the inquest, Jeremy Gormly.
A picture of his background has been built from government records and oral evidence from people who knew him but “Mr Monis has proved to be a complex and secretive man about his own life,” said Mr Gormly on Monday.
The gunman was born in the ancient Iranian city of Borujerd in 1964, the youngest of five children whose parents lived on a modest income.

Persecution Claims

He had a conventional education, and appeared to be an intelligent student who behaved well.
By the 1980s, he was married with two children, and working and studying with the support of his father-in-law.
But by the 1990s, things seemed to go wrong for Monis, the inquest heard.
He arrived in Australia in 1996 seeking asylum, claiming he had been persecuted by Iranian authorities after working for them as a spy.
“Mr Monis was prone to grandiose claims,” said Mr Gormly while adding that there might be a “kernel of truth” to some of them.
Originally named Mohammad Monteghi, he took a series of aliases after he arrived in Australia.
In April 2013, Monis was arrested for being an accessory before and after the murder of his ex-wife, who was stabbed to death and set alight in western Sydney.
His lover, Amirah Droudis, was charged with the murder. Ms Droudis was granted leave to appear before the inquest but has since withdrawn that request because she is in jail awaiting trial.
Monis had a history of religiously motivated activism and called himself a cleric, but there is no evidence his actions were linked to international Islamist militant networks.
The inquest continues.