12/15/2014 09:12 am ET Updated Dec 15, 2014

Man Haron Monis, Iranian Refugee, Named As Sydney Hostage Taker

SYDNEY, Dec 16 (Reuters) - An Iranian refugee known for sending hate mail to the families of Australian soldiers killed overseas and facing several charges of sexual assault is the armed man holding an unknown number of hostages in a Sydney cafe, a police source said on Tuesday.

Man Haron Monis, a self-styled sheik, remained holed up in the cafe some 15 hours after the siege began.

"There's no operational reason for that name to be held back by us now," said the police source, who declined to be identified.

Monis, also known as Sheik Haron, was charged last year with being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife who was stabbed and set alight in a Sydney apartment block.

He was found guilty in 2012 of sending offensive and threatening letters to families of eight Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan, as a protest against Australia's involvement in the conflict, according to local media reports.

Earlier this year, Monis, who describes himself as a "spiritual healer," was charged with the indecent and sexual assault of a Sydney woman in 2002. Further charges were laid in October.

Monis's website shows graphic images of children that the website says were killed by U.S. and Australian airstrikes, as well as media coverage following Monis's court appearances and statements addressed to the Muslim community and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Local media reported his age at 49 or 50. (Reporting by Lincoln Feast; Editing by Mike Collett-White)



12/15/2014 4:33 PM EST

PM: Perpetrator Was Well Known

12/15/2014 4:27 PM EST

Flags Will Fly Half-Mast

12/15/2014 4:07 PM EST

VIDEO: What We Know About The Gunman

12/15/2014 3:58 PM EST

The Dangers Of Lone Wolf Terrorism

Cornell University law professor Jens David Ohlin told Reuters that the events in Sydney underscore the dangers of "lone wolf terroris."

"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," he 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 Qaeda ever was."

Read the full story here.

-- Eline Gordts

12/15/2014 3:54 PM EST

'How Was This Gunman Free On Bail?'

The Sydney Morning Herald takes a detailed look into the criminal background of hostage taker Man Haron Monis and the different charges raised against him in previous years.

A reporter at Tuesday morning's press conference posed the uncomfortable question about the Martin Place siege that will now surely become the subject of further investigation: "How was this gunman free on bail?".

Man Haron Monis, a self-styled sheikh shot dead by police in the early hours of Tuesday morning, was before the courts on two separate and serious matters: more than 40 sexual assault charges involving seven alleged victims; and as an accessory to the murder of his former partner.

Read the full story here.

-- Eline Gordts

12/15/2014 2:14 PM EST

Prime Minister's Statement

Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott released the following statement:

I want to give you a brief update on the siege in Sydney.

I have just chaired a meeting of the National Security Committee of the Cabinet, which was briefed by Premier Baird and Andrew Scipione, the New South Wales Police Commissioner, on the unfolding situation.

This is a very disturbing incident.

It is profoundly shocking that innocent people should be held hostage by an armed person claiming political motivation.

Nevertheless, I can say that New South Wales Police and other agencies have responded to this incident with great professionalism.

Throughout the day, there has been nothing but complete and total cooperation between different Governments and different agencies.

You can be proud of the way your police and security bodies have responded to the events of this day.

I think I can also commend the people of Sydney for the calmness with which they have reacted to this disturbing incident.

We are a free, open and generous people and today we have responded to this in character.

Obviously, images have been beamed around our country and around the world.

I have received messages of support from a number of international leaders and I thank them for their encouragement on this difficult day.

Yes, it has been a difficult day. Yes, it is a day which has tested us, but, so far, like Australians in all sorts of situations, we have risen to the challenge.

12/15/2014 1:57 PM EST

No Explosives Found In Sydney Cafe

12/15/2014 1:54 PM EST

Police: 17 Hostages Involved In Siege

The police commissioner for New South Wales said on Tuesday morning that 17 hostages were involved in the Sydney siege.

Andrew Scipione explained that police decided to enter the cafe where the hostage taker was holed up early on Tuesday after shots were heard inside.

Two hostages were killed during the crisis, as well as the hostage taker, Man Haron Monis.

-- Eline Gordts

12/15/2014 1:47 PM EST

Police Statement

12/15/2014 1:39 PM EST

Police: 2 Hostages Have Been Killed

Police have confirmed that two hostages have been killed in the siege in Sydney.

More from The Guardian:

Police have confirmed three people are dead. Police said the 50-year-old man who took the hostages died at hospital after a confrontation between himself and police this morning where shots were fired.

A 34-year-old man and a 38-year-old woman, who were among the hostages, were shot and pronounced dead at hospital. Two women were taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Another woman was taken to hospital with a gunshot wound to her shoulder.

A male police officer suffered non-life threatening wounds to his face from gunshot pellets.

Read the full story here.

-- Eline Gordts