Iran TerrorismSiege gunman connected to Iranian spy agencies, says lawyer

Siege gunman connected to Iranian spy agencies, says lawyer



bY: Paul Maley
MAN Haron Monis, the gunman behind last month’s deadly Sydney siege, would have been closely connected to Iran’s sprawling ­intelligence establishment before his arrival in Australia, his former lawyer claims.


by: Paul Maley

MAN Haron Monis, the gunman behind last month’s deadly Sydney siege, would have been closely connected to Iran’s sprawling ­intelligence establishment before his arrival in Australia, his former lawyer claims.

Nazir Daawar, who repres­ented Monis after he was charged in 2011 for sending offensive letters to the families of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan, said his former client had been a privileged member of the Iranian elite prior to his arrival in Australia.

Mr Daawar said Monis’s job as the director of a travel agency could not have been obtained without high-level connections to Iran’s intelligence services.

He said in Iran such jobs were considered positions of considerable authority, as travel agents were involved in obtaining visas in and out of the country.

“Knowing the Iranian community and their system, a person who did not have these connections would not be put into that position,’’ Mr Daawar told The Australian.

On December 15, Monis took 17 people hostage in the Lindt cafe in Sydney’s Martin Place. The siege ended 16 hours later with Monis and two hostages being shot dead.

The self-styled sheik and ­religious fanatic is understood to have arrived in Australia in 1996 on a business visa before applying for, and obtaining, refugee status. In letters reportedly written by him after his arrival in Australia, Monis claims to have had ­inside knowledge of the workings of the Iranian intelligence services. Monis had been a figure of ­occasional interest to Australia’s police and security services.

Mr Daawar described his former client as an often charming and charismatic man, but one given to outbursts of temper.

He said he refused to represent Monis after the Iranian ignored his advice not to address the media as the charges against him were being heard. “He was a very good talker. He could run a religious talk with power, with charisma. Even the first time he came to my office, he impressed me with the way he ­behaved,’’ Mr Daawar said.

Monis was investigated by ASIO in 2008 after he sent a series of offensive letters to the families of killed Diggers.

There is little doubt that the final judgment of the security agencies was that Monis was mentally unbalanced and was considered more of a pest than a threat.

The nature of his relationship with security agencies after he ­arrived in the country in 1996 ­remains unclear.

Sources familiar with ASIO’s practices say there is little doubt the agency would have examined his claimed relationship with the Iranian intelligence services.

However, it is not clear what conclusions, if any, they formed on Monis in the mid-1990s, or what, if any, bearing those judgments had on Monis’s application for a protection visa.

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