Gunman in Sydney Had Long History of Run-Ins With the Law – New York Times

A hostage ran to tactical response police officers after she escaped from a cafe under siege in Sydney, Australia, on Monday. Two other captives were killed.
By THOMAS FULLER and MICHELLE INNIS
December 15, 2014

SYDNEY, Australia — The gunman who seized hostages in a downtown Sydney cafe and was killed in a police raid early Tuesday was known to both the police and leaders of Muslim organizations as a deeply troubled man with a long history of run-ins with the law, including a pending case involving the killing of his former wife.

“This guy was on the fringe of the fringe,” said Manny Conditsis, a lawyer who had represented the gunman, Man Haron Monis, in previous criminal cases. “He wasn’t accepted by anybody.”

Mr. Conditsis described the 16-hour seizure of the cafe, which also left two hostages dead, as “the ultimate cry for attention.”

The violence in Sydney occurred two months after a gunman killed a soldier and stormed Parliament in Ottawa, an episode that was a similar mix of personal disaffection and jihadist zealotry.

Flowers laid near the scene of the siege.

The Canadian gunman, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, had criminal convictions in cases that included robbery and drug-related offenses and was a convert to Islam. He shot dead a young corporal guarding the tomb of the unknown soldier at the country’s National War Memorial. Two days before that, a 25-year-old man who had recently adopted radical Islam ran over two Canadian soldiers near Montreal, killing one.

Mr. Monis successfully sought political asylum in Australia two decades ago, the authorities said. According to Mr. Conditsis, the lawyer, Mr. Monis had been a Shiite cleric in Iran. The lawyer said he also believed that Mr. Monis later converted to the Sunni branch of Islam.

The attacks in Canada and the one in Sydney raise questions about the ability of governments to monitor radicalized, would-be killers and prevent them from doing harm.

The similarities among those attacks and one in New York in October, when a man with a hatchet set upon police officers, were the radicalization of people and their isolation from their communities, according to Greg Barton, the director of the Global Terrorism Research Center at Monash University in Melbourne.

The gunman, Man Haron Monis, had been involved in a number of cases, including one over the murder of his former wife. “This guy was on the fringe of the fringe,” said a lawyer who had represented him. Mr. Monis, originally from Iran, successfully sought political asylum in Australia two decades ago.

“There is no easy answer to how you deal with that,” Mr. Barton said. “It is just not possible to put people under 24-hour surveillance unless they are prime suspects.”

The Australian security and counterterrorism authorities do a good job monitoring large-scale operations and individuals within radicalized groups, he said, but “lone wolf operators present a different challenge.”

Mr. Monis entered the Lindt Chocolate Cafe on Martin Place in central Sydney about 9:45 a.m. on Monday and took 17 hostages, five of whom escaped. He had a black flag with white Arabic script, similar to those used by Islamic militants on other continents, which was later displayed in a window of the cafe.

Andrew Scipione, the New South Wales police commissioner, said Mr. Monis was fatally shot during the police raid, which took place shortly after 2 a.m. Tuesday. The police moved to storm the restaurant after gunshots were heard inside, Mr. Scipione said.

“They made the call because they believed that at that time, that if they didn’t enter, there would have been many more lives lost,” the commissioner said. Before the raid began, the police said they believed that no one in the cafe had been hurt.

A police statement released later did not make clear how the two hostages were killed, saying only that “shots were fired during the confrontation.”

Australian news media identified the two dead hostages as Katrina Dawson, 38, a lawyer, and the cafe’s manager, Tori Johnson, 34.

Alarmed by the prospect of Australians traveling to Syria and being radicalized by the civil war there, the government of Tony Abbott this year pushed through Parliament a raft of laws to prevent terrorism at home. The laws bar Australians from joining civil wars in foreign countries, make it easier for the government to confiscate passports, and make it an offense to incite terrorism through social media. Another measure steps up intelligence sharing between the military and the Australian Secret Intelligence Service.

Experts say the new laws were not helpful in the case of the Sydney siege because Mr. Monis did not travel overseas and apparently was not part of a gang or terrorist network. “The new laws don’t add anything to what can be done in advance in a situation like the siege,” said Bret Walker, a barrister who was Australia’s first independent monitor for national security laws.

Keysar Trad, a spokesman for the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia, based in Sydney, said that Mr. Monis had been acting alone and that that had made it difficult for the authorities to track him.

“If he had been part of a bigger group, he would have come up on the police radar” and been under constant surveillance, Mr. Trad said. “He didn’t.”

And yet Mr. Monis had repeatedly come to the attention of community leaders and the authorities.

Mr. Trad said he met with Mr. Monis several times, the first meeting prompted by sharply critical letters that Mr. Monis had sent to the families of Australian service members killed in Afghanistan. He was convicted and sentenced to community service for sending the letters, with the authorities using a rarely invoked law covering postal communications.

Mr. Monis was charged in November 2013 with being an accessory to the murder of his former wife, Noleen Hayson Pal, who had been stabbed and burned to death. A woman, Amirzh Droudis, 34, has been charged with her murder. Mr. Monis was granted bail and was awaiting trial.

“He had nothing to lose,” said Mr. Conditsis, the lawyer. “He may have been motivated by what he saw as the inevitability of going to prison.”

In April, Mr. Monis was also charged with the sexual assault of a woman in western Sydney in 2002. Forty more counts of sexual assault relating to six other women were later added to that case. Mr. Monis also seemed rattled by his inability to reunite with his family in Iran and by what he described as torture by prison guards during a stint in prison, Mr. Conditsis said.

Mr. Monis emigrated to Australia from Iran around 1996 and was previously known as Manteghi Boroujerdi or Mohammad Hassan Manteghi. In a broadcast interview in 2001, he claimed to have worked for Iranian intelligence.

According to Iranwire, a news website run by Iranian expatriates, Mr. Monis had published a book of poetry in Iran.

The state-run Iranian news agency, Fars, quoted a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Marziyeh Afkham, as saying that it had warned the Australian authorities about Mr. Monis.

“The history and mental-psychological conditions of this individual, who sought political asylum in Australia more than two decades ago, had been discussed with Australian authorities many times,” Ms. Afkham was quoted as saying.

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At least 126, most of them children, slaughtered as Taliban storm Pakistan school – CNN

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Pakistan Taliban — Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) — claimed responsibility
  • Taliban spokesman says hundreds of people being held inside school
  • Military rescue operation is currently underway

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) — The Taliban stormed a military-run school in northwest Pakistan on Tuesday and gunned down at least 126 people, most of them children, in one of the country’s deadliest attacks in recent weeks.

Hours after the attack, the Pakistani military was still exchanging gunfire with the militants inside the Army Public School and Degree College, in the violence-plagued city of Peshawar, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the country’s capital, Islamabad.

Two explosions were also heard.

Map: Peshawar, Pakistan Map: Peshawar, Pakistan

Map: Peshawar, PakistanMap: Peshawar, Pakistan

Pakistan takes on Taliban militants

By 3 p.m. Tuesday, it was unclear how many of the hundreds of students were still inside the school.

The Pakistani military said it had pushed the attackers to four blocks of the school, and killed four.

The death toll has steadily risen, and officials fear it will climb higher. The number of injured was upwards of 100.

Most of those who died were between the ages of 12 and 16, said Pervez Khattak, chief minister of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where Peshawar is located.

Scaling the walls

In a telephone call to CNN, the Pakistan Taliban — Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) — said six suicide bombers scaled the walls of the school with orders to kill older students about 10 a.m.

The Taliban said “300 to 400 people are under the custody of the suicide bombers.”

The military had earlier said most students and teachers had been evacuated.

Revenge attack

Mohammed Khurrassani, the TTP spokesman, told CNN the attack was revenge for the killing of hundreds of innocent tribesmen during repeated army operations in provinces including South Waziristan, North Waziristan and the Khyber Agency — all restive regions along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan.

For the past few months, the Pakistan military has been conducting a ground offensive aimed at clearing out militants in these areas. The campaign has displaced tens of thousands of people.

READ: Pakistan offensive leaves ‘ghost towns’

Northwestern Pakistan is home to loosely governed tribal areas. It’s also a base for foreign fighters and a refuge for members of the Taliban and other militant groups.

Violent past

The military offensive in the region has spurred deadly retaliations.

In September, choir members and children attending Sunday school were among 81 people killed in a suicide bombing at the Protestant All Saints Church of Pakistan. A splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the church attack, blaming the U.S. program of drone strikes in tribal areas of the country.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif rushed to Peshawar, declared three days of mourning, and said he would personally oversee the operation to flush out the militants.

Peace falters

As recently as last spring, The Taliban and the Pakistani government were involved in peace talks. The government released 19 Taliban noncombatants in a goodwill gesture.

But talks broke down under a wave of attacks by the Taliban and mounting political pressure to bring the violence under control.

CNN’s Sophia Saifi reported from Islamabad, along with journalists Zahir Shah and Adeel Raja. CNN’s Paul Armstrong wrote from Hong Kong.

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At least 84 children killed in Taliban school attack in Pakistan: official – Reuters

A soldier escorts schoolchildren after they were rescued from from the Army Public School that is under attack by Taliban gunmen in Peshawar, December 16, 2014. REUTERS/Khuram Parvez


(Reuters) – At least 84 children were killed in Pakistan on Tuesday when Taliban gunmen stormed a military-run school in the city of Peshawar, taking hundreds of students and teachers hostage in the bloodiest insurgent attack in the country in years.

Troops surrounded the building and an operation was under way to rescue the remaining children, the army said. A Reuters journalist at the scene said he could hear heavy gunfire from inside the school.

Pervaiz Khattak, Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the province of which Peshawar is the capital, said 84 children had been killed.

“In CMH (Combined Military Hospital) there are around 60 and there are 24 dead in Lady Reading (hospital),” he told local television channels.

It was not immediately clear whether some or all of the children were killed by the gunmen or in the ensuing battle with Pakistani security forces trying to gain control of the building.

Outside, helicopters hovered overhead and ambulances ferried wounded children to hospital.

An unspecified number of children were still being held hostage in the school, a provincial official said, speaking some three hours after the attack began.

The Pakistani Taliban, who are fighting to topple the government and set up a strict Islamic state, have vowed to step up attacks in response to a major army operation against the insurgents in the tribal areas.

They have targeted security forces, checkpoints, military bases and airports, but attacks on civilian targets with no logistical significance are relatively rare.

In September, 2013, dozens of people, including many children, were killed in an attack on a church, also in Peshawar.

“WE WANT THEM TO FEEL THE PAIN”

The hardline Islamist movement immediately claimed responsibility.

“We selected the army’s school for the attack because the government is targeting our families and females,” said Taliban spokesman Muhammad Umar Khorasani. “We want them to feel the pain.”

The army said in a statement that many hostages had been evacuated but did not say how many.

“Rescue operation by troops underway. Exchange of fire continues. Bulk of student(s) and staff evacuated. Reports of some children and teachers killed by terrorist,” the army said in a brief English-language statement.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attack and said he was on his way to Peshawar.

“I can’t stay back in Islamabad. This is a national tragedy unleashed by savages. These were my kids,” he said in a statement.

“This is my loss. This is the nation’s loss. I am leaving for Peshawar now and I will supervise this operation myself.”

Military officials at the scene said at least six armed men had entered the military-run Army Public School. About 500 students and teachers were believed to be inside.

“We were standing outside the school and firing suddenly started and there was chaos everywhere and the screams of children and teachers,” said Jamshed Khan, a school bus driver.

One student inside the school at the time of the attack told a private television channel: “We were in the examination hall when all of sudden firing started and our teachers told us to silently lay on the floor. We remained on the floor for an hour. There was a lot of gunfire.

“When the gunfire died down our soldiers came and guided us out.”

Originally the Taliban said the attackers, including a number of suicide bombers, had been instructed not to target children and shoot only adults.

(Additional reporting by Mehreen Zahra-Malik and Syed Raza Hassan in Islamabad and Saud Mehsud in Dera Ismail Khan; Writing by Katharine Houreld and Maria Golovnina; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

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Australia Café Siege Leaves Gunman, 2 Hostages Dead – Voice of America

Australian police have confirmed three people, including the hostage-taker, were killed during a day-long standoff at a Sydney cafe.

The siege ended around 2 a.m. local time Tuesday when heavily-armed police stormed the shop where New South Wales Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said a gunman held 17 people hostage for about 16 hours.

New South Wales police called the attack an “isolated incident” by 50-year-old Iranian immigrant Man Haron Monis.

A 34-year-old man and 38-year-old woman were also killed. The police commissioner said gunfire was exchanged when police raided the cafe, but would not confirm the causes of the three deaths.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Monis was politically motivated, calling him mentally unstable. He said Monis was well known to law enforcement. Abbott also said the way police handled the situation should leave Australians reassured.

Four hostages and a police officer are being treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

The takeover of the Lindt chocolate cafe in Sydney’s central business district began around 9:45 a.m. local time on Monday.

Five people escaped the cafe on Monday and another five early Tuesday, just before the police assault. At least three more fled with help from emergency workers.

A barrage of gunfire and flashes could be heard as security forces in tactical gear surrounded, then entered the storefront early Tuesday morning, local time.

A police spokeswoman said the attacker made contact during the siege, but negotiators had not been able to establish a motive for his action.

At times throughout the standoff, hostages inside were seen standing with their hands pushed up against the windows. A black flag with the Islamic creed known as the Shahada written in white could be seen through the glass.

Man Haron Monis came into the public eye earlier with a letter campaign to the families of Australian troops killed in Afghanistan in which he criticized the soldiers’ actions. The Sydney resident entered the country in 1996 seeking political asylum. He was out on bail after charges related to the 2013 killing of his ex-wife and the sexual assault of a woman earlier this year.

“This is a country that’s been on heightened alert for fear of domestic Islamic terror, so I would imagine that the period ahead for Australia will involve quite a painful and intense debate about where minorities sit in this country, how this country deals with the threat of extremism, and how this country deals with its minority groups,” freelance journalist Phil Mercer said.

Mercer also told VOA from Sydney that the police response was swift once shots were heard inside the cafe.

“It was over pretty quickly,” he said. “Within an hour or so, the center of Sydney was extremely quiet as the hostages were taken to hospital for checkups.”

Sydney, AustraliaSydney, Australia

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Sydney, Australia

Sydney, Australia

A police spokeswoman said the hostage-taker made contact during the standoff, but negotiators had not been able to establish a motive for his action.

Monis, a self-proclaimed Muslim cleric, was facing charges including sexual assault and accessory to murder in separate cases.

He was found guilty in 2012 of sending offensive and threatening letters to the families of Australian soldiers killed overseas, according to media reports. He had been sentenced to 300 hours of community service, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Monis had obsessed over an ongoing legal battle over the letters, according to the Herald, which said a court on Friday refused to overturn charges against him.

Local media reported that Monis had changed his name from Manteghi Bourjerdi.

Black flag displayed

Early in the crisis, hostages were seen standing with their hands pushed up against the windows. A black flag with the Islamic creed known as the Shahada written in white could be seen through the glass.

The phrase is a declaration of faith for Muslims and translates to “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger.” Radical Islamists, including the Islamic State group, have co-opted the Shahada to use on their flags.

New South Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione on Monday refused to call the situation a terrorist act. But Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the incident at the cafe may have been politically motivated.

The cafe is in the heart of Sydney’s financial and shopping district, an area packed with holiday shoppers at this time of the year. 

Nearby buildings, including the U.S. Consulate in Sydney, had been evacuated. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the department had monitored the situation and accounted for all its personnel with the mission.

The New South Wales state parliament house is also just a few blocks away.  

Security experts

Although Monis was well known to authorities, security experts said preventing attacks by people acting alone could still be difficult.

“Today’s crisis throws into sharp relief the dangers of lone wolf terrorism,” said Cornell University law professor Jens David Ohlin, speaking in New York.

“There are two areas of concern. The first is ISIS [Islamic State] fighters with foreign passports who return to their home countries to commit acts of terrorism,” Ohlin said. “The second is ISIS sympathizers radicalized on the internet who take it upon themselves to commit terrorist attacks to fulfill their radical ideology.

“We are entering a new phase of terrorism that is far more dangerous, and more difficult to defeat, than al-Qaida ever was,” Ohlin said.

Australia, a staunch ally of the United States and its escalating action against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, earlier this year raised its domestic terror threat level from medium to high, mainly because of concerns about home-grown extremists.

About 70 Australians are thought to be fighting for militant groups in the Middle East.

In September, Australia’s largest counterterror raids took place in Sydney and Brisbane. One person was charged with terror offenses.

Tough anti-terror laws were passed by the Australian parliament in October in response to the threat of homegrown extremism.

Phil Mercer contributed to this report from Sydney. Some material for this report came from Reuters, AFP and AP.

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Schools closed as manhunt goes on for Pennsylvania shooting spree suspect – CNN

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Upper Perkiomen School District calls off classes for Tuesday
  • Killings break the calm in three small towns in Pennsylvania
  • DA says suspect killed his ex-wife and five in-laws
  • Suspect identified as Bradley William Stone, 35, of Pennsburg, Pennsylvania

(CNN) — Dread and uncertainty hung over Montgomery County, north of Philadelphia, early Tuesday as authorities hunted for a former Marine reservist suspected of killing his ex-wife and five former in-laws.

Schools closed and families huddled behind locked doors not knowing if shooting suspect Bradley William Stone of Pennsburg was still in the area.

“We do not know where he is,” said District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman. “We do not have vehicle information. We actually recovered his vehicle and his personal cellphone so we do not have information how he might be traveling.”

Police name suspect in Pa. shooting

Cops barricade homes in gunman search

With so much unknown, the Upper Perkiomen School District called off classes.

“Due to the fact that law enforcement still seeks the whereabouts of an armed and dangerous local resident, Upper Perkiomen schools will be closed on Tuesday, December 16th,” an announcement on the district’s website said. “Decisions regarding re-opening of school will be made on a daily basis.”

Doylestown Township Police thought they had a sniff of a lead Monday night after a man resembling Stone tried to rob a man who was out walking his dog.

The man with the knife demanded the other man’s car keys, but fled after a struggle. The man with the dog had a gun and fired multiple shots at the suspect who was last seen running from the area, police said.

Authorities with K-9 units swarmed the scene, ordering residents to stay barricaded in their homes, but called off that search after about an hour.

“The shelter in place advisory is being lifted. Please continue to be vigilant. Get some sleep,” the Doylestown Fire Company said on Twitter.

The shelter in place advisory is being lifted. Please continue to be vigilant. Get some sleep.

— Doylestown Fire Co. (@DFC1979News) December 16, 2014

The victims

The dead included Stone’s ex-wife and her mother, grandmother and sister, as well as the sister’s husband and 14-year-old daughter, Ferman said.

The sister’s 17-year-old son was wounded and was being treated at a Philadelphia hospital.

But Stone didn’t harm his two daughters, who were living with his ex-wife. He took them to a neighbor’s residence in Pennsburg, the last place he was seen, according to Ferman.

She didn’t provide a motive for the slayings. Stone was described as armed and dangerous.

According to Montgomery County court documents found online, the Stones divorced in 2009.

Fast Facts: Rampage killings in the United States

911 hangup call started investigation

The killings broke the calm in several small towns in Montgomery County, the second wealthiest county in Pennsylvania and the 51st wealthiest in the United States, according to the county government web page.

An early morning 911 hangup call first tipped off police to the situation, directing them to Lansdale, 28 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

When police arrived, they found two slain women: Stone’s former mother-in-law and former grandmother-in-law, Ferman said.

A short time later, a neighbor of Stone’s ex-wife called 911, Ferman said. Police went to an apartment in Lower Salford and found 33-year-old Nicole Stone dead.

“I heard three or four gunshots and I heard the kids yelling, saying, ‘Mommy, no. No, mommy, no.’ And he just said, ‘Let’s go. We gotta go,'” a neighbor who did not want to be identified told CNN affiliate WFMZ. “I heard him say, ‘Let’s go. We gotta get in the car.'”

“They didn’t have any coats on or anything,” the neighbor said. “They just had their pajamas on, and he just said, ‘We gotta go.’ He was like, ‘She’s hurt. She’s hurt pretty bad. We have to leave.’ And just got in the car and sped off.”

At 5:30 a.m., about an hour after the initial 911 call, Stone delivered his two daughters to a neighbor in Pennsburg, Ferman said.

“That was the last time he was seen by anyone,” she said. “I think it’s of great significance the children are safe right now.”

About 8 a.m., police went to the home of Nicole Stone’s sister, Patricia Flick, in Souderton. Officers found Flick, her husband and the couple’s 14-year-old daughter dead, Ferman said.

The sister’s 17-year-old son was wounded and was being treated at a Philadelphia hospital, Ferman said.

Suspect led American Legion post

Stone served as a reservist in the U.S. Marines until 2011, mainly as a meteorologist, according to the Marines. He spent a few months in Iraq in 2008.

William Schafte of Harleysville, who described himself as a friend, called Stone a “good guy” who helped people who needed money or a hand, according to the Morning Call newspaper of Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Stone served as president of the American Legion William E. Hare Post 206 in Lansdale about a decade ago, said the current post commander John Gillmer, the Morning Call reported.

“He was always on the honor guard and stuff like that for parades,” Gillmer told the Morning Call. “I was shocked, I couldn’t believe it. … I never would have thought it was one of our guys.”

CNN’s Ralph Ellis, Ashley Fantz, Kristina Sgueglia and Lawrence Crook contributed to this report

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Taliban storms military school, kills students – USA TODAY

Taliban gunmen stormed a military school in Pakistan on Tuesday, killing 20 students and one soldier and wounding dozens of people, a hospital official said.

The Washington Post reported that hundreds of students and teachers were possibly taken hostage, according to Pakistani security and hospital officials.

The newspaper said as many as six militants scaled a wall and shot their way into the school, in northwestern city of Peshawar, military officials said.

Police officer Javed Khan told the Associated Press that the gunmen entered the school in the morning and shot at random. Army commandos arrived and exchanged fire with them, he said.

Jamil Shah, a spokesman for Lady Reading Hospital in the city, said the killed soldier was a member of the Pakistani paramilitary forces.

Student Abdullah Jamal, who was shot in the leg, said he was with a group of 8th, 9th and 10th graders who were getting first-aid instructions and training with Pakistani army medics when the attack began. For the first few seconds, nobody knew what was happening, he said.

“Then I saw children falling down who were crying and screaming. I also fell down. I learned later that I have got a bullet,” he said from his hospital bed.

“All the children had bullet wounds. All the children were bleeding.”

Taliban spokesman Mohammed Khurasani claimed responsibility for the attack in a phone call to media, saying that six suicide bombers carried out the attack in revenge for the killings of Taliban members at the hands of Pakistani authorities, AP said.

Pakistan’s The Express Tribune newspaper said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attack and said “those behind the heinous act will not be spared.”

Peshawar has been the target of frequent militant attacks in the past.

Contributing: Associated Press

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Report: Friends and family of Sydney hostages tell intense tale of captivity – Fox News

Family and friends of several hostages taken by gunman Man Haron Monis inside a Sydney Café recounted the fear and terror the hostages experienced with Guardian Australia Tuesday.

No one paid attention to Monis at the café and the only time anyone heard anything from him is when he took his shotgun and held it up in fury yelling at patrons to stand with their hands raised.

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Monis told customers he was a representative of ISIS and there were bombs in the building. Minutes later, a customer approached the already locked doors of the café but was deterred by Monis.

The customers alerted the police and the operation began.

Meanwhile, Monfis reportedly was yelling at his captives spreading messages of fear while they cried. Monfis finally got someone to listen to him.

The gunman surrounded himself with the staff members, the paper reports. He used them to control messages to social media. He directed them what to do and what to say.

Hostages called media outlets across Australia to relay Monfis’ demands; a live on-air broadcast with Australian prime minister Tony Abbot, a public declaration that this was an act of terror from ISIS and a black Islamic State flag.

None of his demands were met.

Videos of Monfis controlling the staff members were deleted from YouTube early on. A woman is reading a prepared statement and the “director” of the video reportedly spoke confidently to those on camera.

A Sydney lawyer, Julie Taylor, was one of the hostages forced to speak.

“My name is Julie Taylor, I’m a barrister in Sydney, this is a message for Tony Abbott. We are here with … ummm … our brother, who has asked for three simple things, and the first is that Tony Abbott calls him, live in the media, to have a short conversation. If he does that five of us will be allowed to go. We can’t understand why that hasn’t happened.”

Taylor continued to relay the demands of Monis on the video.

With the situation dragging, Monis reportedly realized his message was not getting out.

One hostage told Guardian Australia that Monis was getting “angrier and angrier.”

Monis did allow the captives to take drinks of water and for one woman to take her medication.

Monis granted bathroom breaks and made sure there was an escort to those who needed to use the restroom.

Two men who asked to go to the bathroom asked a staff member if they pressed the green button at the base of the door, would it open. The employee was unsure.

The men took a risk and made a run for it. They pressed the button sliding the open doors and made their escape, the café employee went through the fire door sparking two more to do the same later.

As night fell, the power was cut. An agitated Monis was only getting more furious.

Details emerged after the rescue operation that one hostage attempted to grab Monis’ gun. Gunshots were heard, which prompted police to move in.

When the dust cleared, Monis was found dead on the ground with two victims, 38-year-old Katrina Dawson and 34-year-old Tori Johnson, the manager of the café.

Click here for more from Guardian Australia.

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Stone-cold: Ex-Marine slays ex-wife, 5 of her relatives – Philly.com

STEPHANIE FARR, MORGAN ZALOT, BARBARA LAKER & DAVID GAMBACORTA, Daily News Staff Writers farrs@phillynews.com, 215-854-4225

Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2014, 3:01 AM

WHO WILL tell the 17-year-old boy at his hospital bedside that his mother, father, sister, grandmother, great-grandmother and aunt are dead when – and if – he wakes up?

Who will kneel and take the boy’s hand gently into theirs, telling him that things will be OK, never knowing if they really will?

Who will acknowledge that he’ll never again look forward to Christmastime?

And will they be able to tell the boy that the man he once called uncle, the man accused of slaughtering his entire immediate family, has been captured?

In yesterday’s predawn hours, Bradley William Stone, 35, a military veteran from Pennsburg, Montgomery County, systematically killed his ex-wife, Nicole Stone, and five other members of her family in three separate shooting scenes throughout the county, authorities said.

Then he disappeared.

The only survivor of Stone’s rampage was his nephew Anthony Flick, 17. He was shot in the head, according to a family member, but his condition was unknown last night.

Stone’s whereabouts also remained unknown. However, about 7 p.m., a man out walking his dog on Burpee Road in Doylestown was approached by a man who may have been Bradley Stone.

According to Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler, the suspect “accosted” the dogwalker, brandishing a knife and demanding that he hand over his car keys. The unidentified victim, who has a concealed-carry permit, pulled out a gun and fired at the attacker, who fled into nearby woods, Heckler said.

It was unclear if the shots struck the attacker, who also may have been bitten by the resident’s dog, Heckler said.

Investigators wouldn’t confirm whether the subject of their search was Stone, but considered it “a strong possibility,” due to “similarities” between the two men, Heckler said.

In a statement released later last night by Doylestown Township, the suspect in that incident was described as a white man, about 5 feet 10, wearing camouflage.

Suburban authorities called on Philadelphia Police’s Tac Air helicopter for help in the search for that suspect. The chopper was called because it is equipped with thermal-imaging technology that can detect body heat.

The long, brutal, bloody day began about 4:25 a.m., when police responded to a 9-1-1 hang-up call at the house where Nicole Stone’s mother and grandmother lived on West 5th Street in Lansdale. Both women were found slain inside, said Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman.

Just 30 minutes later, at 4:55 a.m., Montgomery County authorities received a 9-1-1 call from Nicole Stone’s neighbor at the Pheasant Run Apartments on Main Street in Lower Salford. Responding officers found Nicole Stone, 33, dead inside her residence, Ferman said.

After allegedly killing his ex-wife, Bradley Stone grabbed his two young daughters from her house and dropped them off at the home of one of his Pennsburg neighbors about 5 a.m., police said.

That was the last confirmed sighting of Bradley Stone, Ferman said.

“It’s of great significance that the children are safe right now,” she said.

While investigating the two scenes, authorities received information that led them to the Souderton home of Patricia Flick, Nicole Stone’s sister, shortly before 8 a.m., Ferman said.

In a day filled with grisly crime scenes, authorities found the grimmest one at Flick’s house.

Found dead inside were Flick; her husband, Aaron; and their daughter, Nina, 14. Anthony Flick, their son, was found with a gunshot wound to the head, according to a relative, and he was rushed to an undisclosed Philadelphia hospital, where he remained last night in unknown condition.

Although police discovered the Flick family crime scene last, that shooting is believed to have been the first, around 3:30 a.m. yesterday, Ferman said. It’s unclear whether Bradley Stone next targeted his ex or the matriarchs of her family.

Sometime after dropping his daughters off at a neighbor’s house, Stone ditched his car and his cellphone, which later were recovered by police at an undisclosed location, prosecutors said.

Authorities said Bradley Stone had closely cropped red hair and a red beard, but had shaved both as of Sunday night. He is 5 feet 10, 195 pounds, and may use a walker or a cane. He also may be wearing military fatigues, police said.

Stone served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve from 2002 through 2008, according to Capt. Eric Flanagan, a public-affairs officer with the Marines.

He was discharged in 2011 at the rank of sergeant, said Flanagan, who was unable to describe “the character of his discharge.”

While in the Marines, Stone was deployed to Iraq and was awarded the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal and the National Defense Service Medal, according to Capt. Maureen Krebs, another public-affairs officer.

Court records show that Stone pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of intoxicants twice, in 2003 and 2013, and is on probation for the latter charge.

On his Facebook page, Stone says he likes AC/DC and “The Walking Dead,” and he has many tributes to fallen soldiers and veterans, specifically in the Marine Corps.

His favorite sayings include this one from USMC Gen. James Mattis:

“Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet.”

Confusion reigned throughout the day as Montgomery County residents tried to make sense of the bizarre scenes playing out in their neighborhoods.

For a good chunk of the morning, people were under the impression that Stone was holed up in a house in Souderton.

About 11:45 a.m., a loud explosion echoed through the neighborhood. Within moments, an armored vehicle sped by, carrying a wounded person who neighbors assumed was Stone.

The person was loaded into a waiting medevac helicopter.

Towamencin Township Police Chief Tim Dickinson said that Stone wasn’t in the property, after all.

He declined to comment on the condition or the identity of the wounded person who had been taken from the house.

“Police went there this morning to check the well-being [of the residents] and they saw movement in the house, and that indicated the suspect might be in the house,” he said.

With the Souderton site cleared, investigators turned their focus to Bradley Stone’s house, about 20 minutes away on a narrow, sloping street in Pennsburg.

A Marine flag swayed in the wind outside the twin home.

Officers used a megaphone to talk to Stone, if he happened to be inside.

“Bradley. This is the police. Come out with your hands up. You’re under arrest,” they said repeatedly.

Numerous streets around his house were barricaded.

At one point, the officers took an instrument to ram into the front door.

No sound or signal came from inside.

In Lansdale, where Stone allegedly gunned down Nicole Stone’s mother and grandmother, neighbors said Nicole’s grandmother was named Patricia Hill. Her mom was Joanne, but neighbors didn’t know her last name.

Neighbor Corlie Stills, 62, said that after Bradley and Nicole Stone split, they apparently had a custody battle over their two children, who Stills and his wife, Barbara, said were both young girls.

“Nicole and her ex-husband weren’t getting along,” Stills said.

“They seemed to have a lot of spats,” his wife added.

“He’d come over to get the children and sometimes the police were called,” Stills said. “He wasn’t trying to get back with her. He came to get his children.”

The couple said that sometimes Stone would show up at the house dressed in Marine fatigues.

“He seemed like he was a gentleman, though. He never acted like a butthole around me,” he said.

“They had been separated quite some time.”

After dusk fell last night, police tape still cordoned off the section of the Pheasant Run Apartments where Nicole Stone was shot dead.

“I just know her to see her around, she has two little girls,” one woman said through her cracked front door several yards down the road from Nicole Stone’s apartment. “I have fear. I worry for the children.”

The woman, who has lived in the complex since 1997, said the apartments are usually quiet. She asked that the Daily News withhold her name because she was afraid.

Another neighbor who lived nearby sat outside smoking a cigarette. That woman, who also requested anonymity, said she and others in the complex were fearful last night knowing that an apparently deranged Bradley Stone was still on the streets.

“It’s scary. I don’t know where or what he could be doing right now,” she said. “It’s crazy and just so sad for the kids.”

– Staff writers Vinny Vella and

Jenny DeHuff contributed

to this report.


On Twitter: @FarFarrAway

Online: ph.ly/crime

Blog: ph.ly/Delco

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Attacker in Sydney Siege was 'Deeply Disturbed,' Australia PM Tony Abbott Says – ABC News

PHOTO: Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his wife Margie pay their respect to the victims of the siege in Martin Place in Sydney central business district, Australia, Dec. 16, 2014.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his wife Margie pay their respect to the victims of the siege in Martin Place in Sydney central business district, Australia, Dec. 16, 2014.

Steve Christo/AP Photo

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Australia Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the hostage taker in Monday’s siege in Sydney was a “deeply disturbed individual” who was drawn to extremist views during a life marked by mental instability and crime.

Abbott, speaking at a press conference with other authorities today, said he believes that no one would want to emulate the actions of Man Monis, who took control of a chocolate shop in downtown Sydney, leading to a 16-hour standoff. Monis and two others were killed during the siege.

“The tragedy of these times is that there are people even in a society such as ours who wish to do us harm. We are not immune to the politically motivated violence which has for so long stalked other countries,” Abbott said.

“There was nothing consistent about this individual’s life, except that he was consistently weird.”

Abbott also expressed his belief that Australia will move beyond the tragedy.

“We have seen, in the worst of times, the best of people,” he said.

PHOTO: Hostages run towards armed tactical response police as they run to freedom from a cafe under siege at Martin Place in the central business district of Sydney, Australia, Dec. 16, 2014.

Rob Griffith/AP Photo
PHOTO: Hostages run towards armed tactical response police as they run to freedom from a cafe under siege at Martin Place in the central business district of Sydney, Australia, Dec. 16, 2014.

Earlier Tuesday, Abbott and his wife Margie paid respects to the siege victims, laying flowers at a makeshift memorial in Sydney’s business district.

The hostages who died during the siege were identified as Tori Johnson, 34, and Katrina Dawson, 38.

Johnson was the manager of the café, according to Channel 9 News in Australia. Dawson was an attorney and mother of three, according to the new South Wales Bar Association. Three other hostages and a police officer sustained non-life-threatening injuries, authorities said.

PHOTO: A hostage runs to armed tactical response police officers for safety after she escaped from a cafe under siege at Martin Place in the central business district of Sydney, Australia, Dec. 15, 2014.

Rob Griffith/AP Photo
PHOTO: A hostage runs to armed tactical response police officers for safety after she escaped from a cafe under siege at Martin Place in the central business district of Sydney, Australia, Dec. 15, 2014.

Of the 17 total hostages, at least 12 were reportedly able to flee from the store before police stormed the shop.

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6 dead, manhunt underway after Pa. shooting spree – USA TODAY

WPVI-TV reports that a gunman is barricaded in a house in Souderton, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia. Police were called after two people were found dead in a home. Three others were found shot to death in two other locations. (Dec. 15)

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00:25 I. Right.

Six family members were killed and one was seriously wounded in shootings at three locations in suburban Philadelphia, and a manhunt was underway for a former U.S. Marine, authorities in Montgomery County said Monday.

One of the dead was the suspected gunman’s ex-wife, Nicole Hill Stone, with whom he had battled over custody of their two daughters.

Police were looking for Bradley William Stone, 35, of Pennsburg, the county district attorney’s office said. Authorities said that the shootings appeared to be related to a domestic dispute and that all the victims had a “familial relationship” with Stone.

Other victims were members of Hill’s family, including her grandmother, her sister, Patricia Flick, her husband and their 14-year-old daughter. The couple’s 17-year-old son was seriously wounded.

“Stone should be considered armed and dangerous,” District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said in a statement.”Police are conducting an extensive search in and around Pennsburg.”

Monday night, a suspect matching Stone’s description reportedly was involved in an attempted carjacking in nearby Doylestown, in Bucks County. The driver fired at the suspect, who fled into woods, according to WPVI-TV. The suspect was armed with a knife and wearing camouflage.

Monday morning, police converged on a home in Pennsburg, about 30 miles northwest of Philadelphia, and were using a megaphone to try and draw Stone out.

“Bradley, this is the police department!” an officer yelled. “Come to the front door with your hands up. You’re under arrest.”

Ferman said Stone is known to use a cane or walker to assist him.

About 3 p.m., WPVI-TV reported that police had fired flash-bang grenades and tear gas into the home. But the manhunt continued into the evening, and Stone’s whereabouts were unknown.

Earlier, the station reported that police had found the suspect’s vehicle, and the station tweeted that a gunman was “barricaded” in a house in the town of Souderton, where three people were found dead.

Just before noon, an apparent concussion grenade exploded and an unidentified male was removed from the home and taken by ambulance to a medical helicopter, Philly.com reported, citing Towamencin Township Police Chief Tim Dickinson.

Investigators said they believe the family were the first to be shot, about 3:30 a.m.

USATODAY

BEHIND THE BLOODSHED: THE UNTOLD STORY OF AMERICA’S MASS KILLINGS

Souderton School District issued a notice on its website that its schools were in lockdown.

In nearby Lansdale, dispatchers said a SWAT team responded. Officers searched nearby buildings but, after three hours, police drew back from the scene without announcing anything about the shooting suspect, nbcphiladelphia.com reported.

Monday evening, police said Hill’s 57-year-old mother and her 75-year-old grandmother had been shot to death inside about 4:30 a.m..

A resident at Hill’s Lower Salford Township apartment complex told TV stations she heard gunshots just before 5 a.m. and saw the suspect leave with Hill’s two children.

“I opened the window and I asked him ‘Is everything OK?’ He just looked at me and said, ‘She’s hurt pretty bad. We have to leave. She’s hurt.’ And he just got in the car and left,” the unidentified neighbor said.

Police later found the 33-year-old Hill dead inside the apartment, and the children were found safe at a neighbor’s home, the stations reported, citing sources.

Hill and Stone married in 2004 and filed for divorce in March 2009, the Associated Press reported, citing court records. Their divorce was finalized in December 2012.

Stone remarried last year, and neighbors said Hill became engaged over the summer. They had been in court earlier this month, with Stone filing an emergency petition for custody of their children.

He served more than eight years in the Marine Corps Reserve and had been deployed to Iraq as an “Artillery Meteorological Man,” a Marine Corps spokesman told WCAU-TV, the NBC affiliate in Philadelphia.

Court records show that Stone suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, the Bucks County Courier Timesreported.

He served in the Marines and the Marine Reserves from 2002 to 2011, including a combat tour in Iraq in 2008. He was discharged honorably.

Stone was treated for unspecified combat-related physical injuries, and was also receiving continuing treatment for PTSD, the Montgomery County records show. Stone pleaded guilty in November 2013 to a drunken-driving crash. As part of his sentence, he was participating in a county rehabilitation program for veterans.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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