Tip-off on Man Haron Monis was followed up, says Abbott

Website of Sydney cafe hostage taker included a denunciation of the ‘new religion’ of moderate Islam

Coffee cups with one rose placed in each, with images of the two victims who died in the cafe siege, lawyer Katrina Dawson and Lindt store manager Tori Johnson, at a makeshift memorial in Sydney. photograph: Jason Reed/Reuters

Coffee cups with one rose placed in each, with images of the two victims who died in the cafe siege, lawyer Katrina Dawson and Lindt store manager Tori Johnson, at a makeshift memorial in Sydney. photograph: Jason Reed/Reuters

 

An anonymous call to Australia’s anti-terrorism hotline about Man Haron Monis before he took hostages in a Sydney cafe was followed up but did not reveal plans of an imminent attack, prime minister Tony Abbott has said.

News Corp Australia reported yesterday that someone called the national security hotline in the 48 hours before the siege with concerns about Monis, saying: “Take a look at this man’s website.”

Apart from pictures of dead children believed to have been taken in Syria, Monis’s site included a denunciation of the “new religion” of moderate Islam and an announcement that he was pledging himself to “the caliph of the Muslims”, believed to be a reference to the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Mr Abbott said yesterday the tip-off had been taken seriously: “It was followed up, it was really followed up. The information provided didn’t expose any threats of direct violence by the Martin Place murderer.”

Mr Abbott said a review announced on Wednesday would scrutinise the actions of security agencies and police before, during and after the siege. But ultimate blame for the incident lay with “the terrorist”, he said.

Asio, the national security service, is reported to have looked at Monis’s website and social media postings after the phone call.

At 9.44am on the Monday after the call, Monis drew his shotgun at the Lindt Cafe in Martin Place and began a 16-hour siege that would end in the deaths of two hostages and himself.

New South Wales premier Mike Baird said the review of the incident would examine matters such as the phone warning.

“It is something that all of us have a heavy heart over but we have to go through this because we need to ensure every measure is taken to ensure it doesn’t happen again,” he said.

“But I will say there is one person who is responsible for the actions that happened in the past week and we know who he is. He came with an intent to divide this city but what he has done is unite the city.” – (Guardian service)