Lindt Cafe gunman’s claimed Islamic State affiliation simply desperation, inquest hears

Dr Clarke Jones (from left) Professor Greg Barton and Professor Rodger Shanahan leave the Lindt Cafe siege inquest. Photo: James Brickwood Monis: sought to join the Rebels Motorcycle Club. Photo: NSW Department of Justice
Shanghai night field

The aging Le Salle 12gauge sawn-off shotgun used by Monis during the siege. Photo: Department of Justice

Dr Clarke Jones (from left) Professor Greg Barton and Professor Rodger Shanahan leave the Lindt Cafe siege inquest. Photo: James Brickwood

Man Haron Monis was so desperate to be accepted into any group or cause that the Lindt Cafe siege might never have occurred if his efforts to join the Rebels bikie gang had succeeded, a terrorism expert says.

Dr Clarke Jones from the Australian Intervention Support Hub told the ongoing inquest into the siege that he did not believe Monis was correctly categorised as a terrorist despite his claimed affiliation to Islamic State.

“He was willing to join whatever he could join – Hizb ut-Tahrir … he made moves to try and assist Australian intel agencies which regarded him as a serial pest,” Dr Jones said, while participating in a panel session with two other terrorism experts.

“I think his wanting to join something is evident with his membership of the Rebels Outlaw Motorcycle Club. I wonder whether, if he had been accepted, would we be here today?”

“I think [his connection to ISIS] was a very late development. ISIS was the only one that might accept him.”

Professor Rodger Shanahan from the Australian National University said the choice of the Lindt Cafe was not consistent with a terrorist act driven by political or religious ideology.

“If he wanted to make a statement why didn’t he kill 20 people next to the cenotaph – the main symbol of Australian soldiers overseas?” Professor Shanahan said.

“Why did he go into the Lindt Cafe? Why did he hold them hostage for nearly 18 hours, nearly loose control, let some of them escape. That’s not something that IS asked for.”

He told the inquest that the evidence suggested that Monis’ “narcissism” and mental health issues played a greater role in the siege than terrorist ideology.

This had simply been an “external justification” for his own “internal processes”.

But Professor Greg Barton of Deakin University said he believed the siege had many of the objective features of a terrorist act, including that it was in keeping with the IS strategy of targeting those with mental health issues.

“Al-Qaeda tended to be careful about weeding people out with mental instability,” Professor Baton said.

“IS is different – it gets people with no connection and says, ‘You do something in our name and we’ll recognise it’. It goes after damaged goods.”

He said that as a result of this, the community could expect more “lone wolf” attacks such as the recent Amsterdam-Paris train attack.

“We should now expect many more unpredictable attacks in the future,” he said.

He also noted that Monis had been highly critical of the Australian government for eight years prior to the attack.

But Professor Shanahan said these attacks had been characterised by confusion and contradiction.

“On the one hand he’s praising Islamic State and on the other he doesn’t know who the leader is,” he said.

“Can you believe anything he really says? He says one thing and then turns around 180 degrees the next moment.”

“Who is the real Monis?”

The inquest continues.