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This is the man behind the Sydney siege.

                        
 

Details have emerged about the violent history of the gunman behind the Sydney siege.

Self-described cleric Man Haron Monis, 50, came to Australia from Iran.

Monis first came to the attention of NSW police when he authored spiteful letters to the family of dead Australian soldiers seven years ago.

Fairfax Media reports Monis has been involved in an ongoing legal battle over his conviction for penning the poisonous letters.

It is understood the siege followed an unsuccessful, last-ditch attempted in the High Court on Friday to have the charges overturned.

Read more about how the events of the Sydney siege unfolded here.

Last year, Monis was charged with being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife Noleen Hayson Pal, who was stabbed and set alight outside a western Sydney unit.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott revealed more about Monis’ background in his press briefing this morning.

What we do know is that the perpetrator was well known to State and Commonwealth authorities. He had a long history of violent crime, infatuation with extremism and mental instability. We know that he sent offensive letters to the families of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan and was found guilty of offences related to this. We also know that he posted graphic extremist material online. As the siege unfolded yesterday, he sought to cloak his actions with the symbolism of the ISIL death cult.

Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn elaborated on that in a press conference this morning. She said:

“He was well-known to us. This is a man who had serious history of criminal offences and a history of violence. This was a man that we do believe had some extremist views and we also believe that he was unstable. We will clearly have a look at all the things that we can find out about him so that we can determine what might have triggered anything.”

Photo: ABC.

On his own web page, the South-West Sydney resident claims the most recent charges were brought against him for “political reasons”.

In April this year he was charged by sex crimes squad detectives with the indecent and sexual assault of a woman in western Sydney in 2002, this was then followed up by other women who came forward and he was hit with an additional 40 charges in October.

The allegations of indecent and sexual assault are alleged to have taken place in 2002, when Monis was a self-proclaimed “spiritual healer”.

The ABC reports Monis allegedly placed ads in local newspapers offering “spiritual consultation”, and claimed to be an expert in astrology, numerology, meditation and black magic.

Monis has posted on his own web site that the police charges are part of a “witch hunt” against him.

“Since the Australian government cannot tolerate Sheikh Haron’s activity, is trying to damage his image by these false accusations, and also for putting pressure on him to stop his activity and keep him silent, but God willing Man Haron Monis will not stop his political activity against oppression,” he writes in a description of himself on his website.

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Monis’former lawyer has told the ABC that Monis’s actions were not a part of an organised terrorist group, rather a lone wolf.

“His ideology is just so strong and so powerful that it clouds his vision for common sense and objectiveness,” he said, according to the ABC.

“This is a one-off random individual,” he said. “It’s not a concerted terrorism event or act. It’s a damaged-goods individual who’s done something outrageous.”

Mr Conditsis told ABC that Monis claimed he suffered poor treatment while in prison.

“He was put through let’s say some very unpleasant events, involving matters of excrement over himself and his cell,” he said.

The gunman’s demands.

Throughout the siege Man Haron Monis made several demands which police urged the media not to report.

Some hostages had also reportedly posted messages to social networking sites and YouTube.

The gunman used Facebook accounts of the  hostages to relay his demands and to contact media outlets, however  again police urged the gunman to speak directly to negotiators, and asked the media not to report these Facebook updates.

His former lawyer has told the ABC that Monis’s actions were not a part of an organised terrorist group, rather a lone wolf.

Gunman allegedly spotted earlier in the day

A Sydney father has told News Limited of his encounter with the alleged gunman in the Sydney Siege.

Craig Stoker told of how he was bumped into by a man fitting the description of the gunman early yesterday morning.

“The bag bumped into me and there was something hard in it. I said “watch where you are f***ing going”,’ Mr Stoker said.

“He turned round and said “do you want me to shoot you too”. I looked into his eyes and they were crazy.”

Later, witnesses reported seeing a man of a similar description walk into the Lindt Cafe and pull a weapon from a blue bag.

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