Five years ago, today, Australia was dealing with the fallout of the Sydney siege. One of the lessons that has been observed in the years since, is that had the perpetrators’ violence against women been taken seriously, he would never have been able to stage one of Australia’s most deadly terror attacks.
It was morning when he approached the Lindt Cafe counter in Sydney’s Martin Place “nodding and smiling”. He asked to see the manager, Tori Johnson.
Man Monis had 43 sexual assault charges, a history of domestic violence and harassment.
He had been accused of being an accomplice to his wife’s murder.
Why was it fine that he was walking among us?
Eighteen people inside that Lindt cafe on December 15 2014 became his hostages.
It took police until 3pm to confirm Monis’s identity, as he forced those innocent people up against the glass windows of the cafe, their hands up, some of them holding Islamic State flags.
The 53-year-old’s history also came to light. That he came to Australia from Iran in 2004 under a protection visa. That he had recently pledged allegiance to ISIS.
That, in 2009, he’d been released on bail after being convicted of sending abusive and offensive messages to the families of vetran soldiers in the Middle East.
And then there were the details that might have provided a hint of the horror to come; the terror Monis had reigned over women, within his own workplace and home.
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In 2001, Monis opened a “Spiritual Healing Practice” in western Sydney where he preyed on vulnerable women. Seven women sought out the help of lawyers after being sexually assaulted by their ‘spiritual leader’ Monis.
Twelve years later, Monis conspired to murder his ex wife – a 30-year-old woman and the mother of his three children. He tried hiring bikies to kill her but when that fell through, he enlisted the help of his new girlfriend – Greek-Australian woman Amirah Droudis who’d converted to Islam under Monis’ direction.
One day in April, while Monis took his children to the park and the swimming pool – taking care to film every movement with his phone as an alibi – Droudis lay in wait in the stairwell of his apartment. When his ex-wife returned to pick up the kids. Droudis stabbed her 18 times, doused her with petrol and set her alight. She was later sentenced to 44 years behind bars.
Before he walked into the Lindt cafe that December morning, Monis had been charged with orchestrating the murder of his ex-wife, as well as 43 counts of sexual and indecent assault.
Twenty-two of those were for Aggravated Sexual Assault, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment in Australia.