Some awkward facts for your Sydney siege narrative

by · December 18, 2014

Police Hostage Situation Developing In Sydney

If you have a narrative about the Sydney siege, here are some facts you need to account for:

  • The siege was carried out by a Muslim man who was a self-styled cleric and who had recently proclaimed his conversion from Shia to Sunni (an especially big deal in the current context in the Middle East)
  • He identified at some level with ISIS
  • He made demands on the state (including the PM!), thereby making his actions undeniably “political”, even if his current demands may not have been ones you or I think are any good
  • He had a long history of public political activism around issues that the Left has historically championed
  • He was a product of Australia’s immigration and asylum system, but also has lived here for 18 years and seems to have had many experiences as a member of Australia’s actually-existing multicultural society shaping him up to this event
  • He had significant contact with politicians, authorities (including the police and time in jail) and Islamic “community leaders” while an Australian permanent resident, and they were aware of his erratic and (allegedly) violent behaviour, yet they could do nothing to prevent this crime from happening
  • If the NSW Police are telling the truth, then Australia’s relatively tough gun laws haven’t helped stop this guy getting an unlicensed shotgun despite his history
  • His crime occurred in the context of the media and politicians giving massive air time to the ISIS “death cult” and effectively promoting its strategy, thereby increasing the chances that someone might see identification with ISIS as a way to get publicity and fame for their own political causes. Which is exactly what happened.

Further reading:

Discussion3 Comments

  1. Bernard says:

    It seems ,after he was watching Abbott repeating the isis/isil death cult chant , the hostage taker may have thought , it may have given him more media focus

    The media should not have broadcast Abbott’s propganda

  2. Andrew says:

    You mention “his erratic and (allegedly) violent behaviour” but curiously steer clear of mentioning criminal activity in various spheres, fraud, hoax, and probable mental instability/disturbance. The so-called ‘conversion’ to Sunnism came very late in the piece and there are sufficient grounds to question its genuineness. If reports in the SMH that he had intended to enter the Channel 7 studios because of a long-standing ‘feud’ with the Sunrise program (in which he seems to have objected to the program providing ‘instruction in terrorism’!) are to be believed, it makes the Lindt cafe seem like opportunism. Monis hadn’t even organised himself well enough to bring his own IS flag. To me, the whole IS ‘death cult’ thing seems like a combination of Monis’s own afterthought, and media fear-mongering.

    I do agree with you that “identification with ISIS as a way to get publicity and fame for their own political causes” almost certainly applies to Monis, but I would not include him amongst those who plot terrorist activities of the type about which we are constantly being exhorted to remain alert but not alarmed. PM Howard, when he sent us those fridge magnets, clearly intended that we should be alarmed; it’s happening again.

    • Dr_Tad says:

      I’m not sure what you are getting at.

      Is mental stability or lack of a criminal record (alleged or proven) proof that Monis was not acting politically and using terrorism as his MO? If so, then the Baader-Meinhof group, that most ideological of all left-wing terrorist groups in the 1970s also doesn’t meet the criteria. Similarly, Ulrike Meinhof “came very late” to the Left terror strategy while for may years being a Leftist. Was it “opportunism” because she felt her political objectives were being thwarted when she used more “traditional” activist methods?

      You are correct that what Monis did doesn’t fit with the right-wing narrative we have been fed for the last 13 years, but that doesn’t make it any less terrorism nor any less scary. In fact it might be more unsettling because it can be carried out by relatively unconnected solo operators, whose alienation from Australian society and subsequent violent action against that society is understood by the perpetrator in ISIS-Jihadist ideological terms. Given the rate at which Australia is producing foreign fighters (we’re world leaders in that export industry!) perhaps we should be more worried about what our society can produce than simple Islamist terror narratives account for.