A man who has been holed up in a Sydney cafe after taking dozens of citizens hostage has been identified as Man Haron Monis. He has also been described by followers as “Sheikh Haron” or “Ayatollah Manteghi.”
Haron was born in Iran but had recently moved to Bexley North in the south of Sydney, Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. The hostage-taker reportedly left Iran after he was deemed too “liberal” for the Iranian regime.
In early December, he posted on his website the following statement: “I used to be a Rafidi (rejector), but not any more. Now I am a Muslim. Alhamdu Lilah (Thank God).”
Haron has an extensive record of arrests for illegal acts ranging from being an accessory to murder to sexual assault.
In April, he was charged with sexual assault after detectives found him guilty of assaulting a woman in 2002. At the time, Monis was reportedly using the name Mohammad Hassan Manteghi, and had been describing himself as a “sexual healer,” CNN reports.
In 2013, Haron was convicted with the charge of being an accessory to his ex-wife’s murder. He was reportedly freed temporarily after posting bail.
In 2009, Haron wrote letters to the families of slain Australian soldiers, calling them “criminals,” “killers,” and “murderers.” He wrote to a deceased Jewish Australian soldier’s family: “A Jewish man who kills innocent Muslim civilians is not a pig, he is a thousand times worse.”
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Haron’s Facebook page had 14,725 “likes” before it was shut down on Monday night.
Update: Australian news is reporting that Monis, along with one other hostage, has been killed in the siege:
Seven News has been told that the two dead are the gunman and a hostage. The hostage killed by the gunman
— Chris Reason (@ChrisReason7) December 15, 2014