Monis—not your usual extremist

The inquest into the Martin Place siege has shown a man who was mentally ill with a history of bizarre, attention-seeking acts.

Abbott used the siege to scaremonger, saying it showed that “the terror threat in this country is real”, and provided a clear example of someone who had “become radicalised”. But Man Haron Monis was no extremist ideologue or trained terrorist.

A court-appointed psychologist said his actions revealed “a disturbed individual with delusional thoughts and narcissistic tendencies”. In 2010 he collapsed in the street twice in “psychotic episodes”. That same year he was provisionally diagnosed with schizophrenia.

There was no contact at all between Monis and Islamic State or any other terrorist group prior to his actions in December, though Abbott and others have many times tried to link the two.

This was a strange kind of “Muslim fanatic”. He drank alcohol and at one stage drove four different luxury cars, including a Mercedes and a Peugeot convertible, all with personalised numberplates. In some years he earned $150,000 from his “spiritual consultation” business, which he used to sexually assault women. He advertised services in astrology, numerology and spiritual healing, and told an acquaintance he performed “white magic and spells”.

Monis had been educated as a priest in Iran but got basic Islamic blessings wrong.

He tried to join the Mount Druitt branch of the Rebels motorcycle gang in 2013, but was rejected because they found him “strange and weird”.

By late 2014 he was in debt, facing over 40 sexual assault charges and lengthy jail time. Monis was a deeply disturbed man with no apparent way out. Sadly, our society produces people driven to similar breakdown and despair all too often. But this is no proof of a growing threat of terrorism. The Martin Place siege was not the IS “lone wolf” attack that has been claimed, but the actions of a disturbed and isolated man.

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