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2014 Sydney hostage crisis

2014 Sydney hostage crisis
Lindt Chocolate Café in Sydney
Location Martin Place, Sydney, Australia
Date 15–16 December 2014
9:44 am – 2:44 am (AEDT, UTC+11:00)
Target Café staff and customers
Attack type
Hostage Taking
Weapons sawn off shotgun
Deaths 3 (including the gunman)[1][2]
Non-fatal injuries
Victims 18 hostages
Perpetrator Man Haron Monis[4][5][6]
Motive The gunman was dissatisfied with legal decisions concerning him.[7][8][9][10]

On 15–16 December 2014 a lone gunman, Man Haron Monis, held hostage ten customers and eight employees of a Lindt chocolate café located at Martin Place in Sydney, Australia. Police treated the event as a terrorist attack at the time[11][12] but Monis' motives have subsequently been debated.[13]

After a 16-hour standoff, a gunshot was heard from inside and police officers from the Tactical Operations Unit stormed the café. Hostage Tori Johnson was killed by Monis and hostage Katrina Dawson was killed by a police bullet ricochet in the subsequent raid. Monis was also killed. Three other hostages and a police officer were injured by police gunfire during the raid.[1][14][15]

Early on, hostages were seen holding an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL); Monis later demanded that an ISIL flag be brought to him.[9][17][18] Monis also unsuccessfully demanded to speak to the Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott, live on radio. Monis was described by Abbott as having indicated a "political motivation"[9][10] but the eventual assessment was that the gunman was "a very unusual case—a rare mix of extremism, mental health problems and plain criminality".[19]

In the aftermath of the siege Muslim groups issued a joint statement in which they condemned the incident,[20] and memorial services were held in the city at the nearby St Mary's Cathedral and St James' Church.[21] Condolence books were set up in other Lindt cafés and the community turned Martin Place into a "field of flowers".[22] The Martin Place Lindt café was severely damaged during the police raid, closed afterwards and renovated for re-opening in March 2015.[23][24]


  • Events 1
    • Prior to event 1.1
    • Hostage-taking and negotiations 1.2
    • Escape of five hostages 1.3
    • Raid and end of siege 1.4
    • Flag raids 1.5
  • Hostages 2
  • Evacuations and closures 3
  • Gunman Man Haron Monis 4
  • Reactions 5
    • Leaders 5.1
    • Community 5.2
      • #illridewithyou hashtag 5.2.1
      • "Field of flowers" 5.2.2
    • Religious organisations 5.3
    • International 5.4
    • Charitable foundations 5.5
    • Terrorist organisations 5.6
  • Investigations 6
    • Federal–State joint review 6.1
    • Inquest 6.2
  • Aftermath 7
    • Designation of the event as terrorism 7.1
      • Insurance declaration 7.1.1
      • Debate whether this is a terrorist event 7.1.2
    • Police weapons and tactics 7.2
      • Negotiation 7.2.1
      • ISIL flag 7.2.2
    • Lack of detection 7.3
    • Law and politics 7.4
    • Violence 7.5
    • Media 7.6
  • Memorials 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


Prior to event

An anonymous call was made to Australia's anti-terrorism hotline 48 hours before the siege, raising concerns about the content of Monis' website. On his website, Monis had pledged allegiance to "the caliph of the Muslims", believed to be referring to Islamic State leader

  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

External links

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  200. ^ Williams, Kylie (22 December 2014). "Sydney siege: NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson sent letter to DOCS on behalf of Lindt cafe gunman".  
  201. ^ Dole, Nick (23 December 2014). "John Robertson: Momentum gathering for NSW leadership spill, Labor MPs say".  
  202. ^ "John Robertson stands down as NSW Opposition Leader following leadership speculation".  
  203. ^ Davey, Melissa (17 December 2014). "'"Man Haron Monis 'would not have been on bail if domestic violence was taken as seriously as terrorism. The Guardian. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  204. ^ Price, Jenna (22 December 2014). "Martin Place siege puts spotlight on another enemy: violence against women". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 23 December 2014. 
  205. ^ Milani, Milad (29 December 2014). "Islam, Actually: Telling the Truth about Religion and Violence in the Wake of the Sydney Siege".  
  206. ^ Duffy, Conor (16 December 2014). "Sydney siege: Social media could hamper police operations, being exploited by modern terrorists, expert says" (ABC News). Retrieved 31 December 2014. 
  207. ^ Hermida, Alfred (16 December 2014). "How rumours about the Sydney siege spread on social media". The Conversation. Retrieved 1 January 2015. 
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See also

A month after the siege, police, ambulance workers, firefighters and others were officially thanked at NSW Government House.[118] A permanent memorial to the victims of the siege will incorporate the flowers from Martin Place, which are to be mulched and incorporated into its garden element,[213] and another memorial placed inside the re-opened Lindt café.[23] The premiere of Jonathan Welch's choral piece Street Requiem in February 2015 was dedicated to the siege victims and to those who died in the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris.[214]

Café reopening approximately three months later, March 2015


Debate followed about the difficulty of managing a police operation in the presence of continuous global media coverage[206] as well as the likely damage caused by the spread of rumour.[207][208] Particular criticism was levelled at Rupert Murdoch and News Corp for spreading false information as well as for insensitivity and "gross ethical violations".[208][209][210] Commissioner Scipione and chair of the Australian Press Council, Professor Julian Disney released statements about the media coverage after the event.[210] Beyond misinformation, concerns were raised regarding the presentation of crises as entertainment.[211][212]


Historians of religion and politics also critically reviewed the role of violence committed in the name of religion.[205]

Commentators considered Monis' history of domestic violence, with a family violence expert arguing that it should have been considered when bail was given.[203] A columnist noted that while his behaviour highlighted an "epidemic" of violence towards women, the media focus remained on terrorism.[204]


In the week after the siege, it was revealed that John Robertson, NSW Opposition leader, had sent a letter which passed on a request made by Monis, a constituent in his Blacktown electorate, to the Department of Family and Community Services in 2011. The letter was, according to Robertson, routine procedure on behalf of a constituent and written in support of Monis' request for a supervised visit with his children on Father's Day despite an apprehended violence order against him.[199] The Department declined Monis' request.[200] As pressure mounted on Robertson to resign as Leader of the Labor Party, and three months away from the 2015 state election,[201] he stood aside on 23 December 2014.[202]

Some commentators expressed concerns about immigration and citizenship processes.[196][197] Monis' "confused agenda" meant that Amnesty International did not realise that he and Boroujerdim, who had sought help in 1997, were the same man until they went back through their records.[99] In the absence of hard evidence, suggestions that Monis represented a growing trend of systemic failure, rather than being an aberration, were noted as dangerous to public confidence; to the separation of powers; to the idea of innocence till proven guilty and also to social cohesion by inviting suspicion of people from the Middle East.[198]

After the siege, the revelation that the new Bail Act had allowed Monis to be granted bail sparked calls to further tighten the law; however a review had already been conducted in the wake of earlier controversial bail releases, with the new law set "to take effect next year" (that is, on 28 January 2015).[191][192] Former director of public prosecutions in New South Wales, Nicholas Cowdery, said he was not sure that the amended law would have changed anything in Monis' case,[193] part of the argument being that "magistrates and judges cannot be expected to gaze into a crystal ball when granting bail".[193] Homicide detectives sent a letter to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) urging them to challenge the bail decision for Monis, but a commissioned officer did not pass it on to the DPP.[194] Michael Esposito, writing for the Law Society of South Australia, noted that the shocking nature of the Sydney siege had the power to prompt reviews of bail laws across Australia.[195]

Law and politics

The security forces have been criticised for not recognising that Monis was a threat, and for taking him off their watch list in 2008.[190] This may have been because they overlooked key evidence, or it may have been because there was simply no evidence to collect.[25] The federal/state joint review found that the relevant agencies' analysis had been reasonable.[166]

Lack of detection

During the siege, police asked Muslims in Sydney to source an ISIL flag for Monis, before obtaining their own.[69] The police later raided several houses of people contacted by Ms Kay who was attempting to find an ISIL flag.[69] Ms Kay assumed that the phone calls had been monitored, and that the request had been solely to find out who she would contact, lowering trust among Muslims in the NSW police force.[69]

ISIL flag

It has been suggested that the police treatment of the siege as a terrorist attack may have led to errors such as making no attempt to negotiate with the gunman as would have been normal practice in other hostage situations.[42] One commentator, Guy Rundle, questioned whether the police may have used a "crude rule" that "we don't negotiate with terrorists" that affected their procedures.[167] It might also explain the use of high calibre weapons in a small enclosure against a lone gunman.[66] These factors may have directly led to the deaths of Johnson and Dawson.[167]

Help was offered by the Muslim community including the Grand Muffi and Mamdouh Habib who had known Monis personally. Habib offered to help negotiate or provide background information to the police. These offers were not taken up.[41]

During the siege no significant effort was made to negotiate with Monis, as would normally be expected in a hostage situation in order to build a relationship with a gunman and persuade them to surrender.[42] Instead, Monis received no encouragement or assistance from trained police negotiators.[39]


Katrina Dawson died from a fragment of a police bullet, and other hostages appear to have been hit by bullets that ricocheted off the concrete building. It was unclear why 22 shots were fired by police, of which 13 hit Monis.[53][66][67] Police have been criticised for both the high calibre weapons used and the number of shots fired.[66]

During the siege, a Tactical Assault Group East team at Holsworthy Barracks evaluated the floorplan of the cafe and gave advice to police. Mitchell McAlister, a former member of TAG East, questioned the police use of M4A1 carbines with 5.56 mm rounds over Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine guns.[65]

Police weapons and tactics

Monis had entered the cafe without an ISIS flag.[37] ASIO's previous investigations had found no links between Monis and any terrorist group.[166] When a News reporter met him before the crisis she thought Monis was "lost and confused" and "harmless".[189] Habib said Monis was "sick and disturbed" and desperately seeking attention over his grievances with government officials that had nothing to do with terrorism.[41]

Conversely, researcher Yassir Morsi, researcher at the Centre for Muslim and non-Muslim Understanding in Australia, suggested that "before he flew the black flag, Monis was just a desperate man with a violent past" and that "he was just another gunman. ... the symbol (flag) rewrote Monis's violent past and gave grammar to his attack."[188]

One terrorism expert [who?] described Monis' actions as those of a "lone wolf terrorist ... driven by a desire for attention and to be in the spotlight",[182][183] and his use of the flag was described as "the only way" to instil fear on a global scale.[184] Professor Michael Wesley, Director of the School of International, Political and Strategic Studies at the Australian National University said the attack "was very different from first-generation or second-generation terrorist attacks—but it was terrorism, and terrorism of a brutal and more unpredictable sort."[185] Another view was that describing the gunman as a terrorist was misplaced and would only serve the interests of ISIL.[186] The supervisor of terrorism and security analysis for Statfor said that this hostage-incident exhibits many of the elements associated with grassroots terrorism.[187] A criminologist said that the event "was not about religion and neither was it a terrorist attack but given that perception by the paraphernalia Monis used."[182]

The difference between terrorism and terrorising acts was noted in one analysis as "enormously important"—it added that in Monis' case, terrorism "was clearly an element, but he was coming to the end of his rope with a variety of legal processes; there was clearly some mental instability."[99] One view was that his lack of ties to any movement did not preclude his being a terrorist as it is "an inclusive club".[180] Another commentator said, "There can be also no doubt that his attack was a terrorist act, as defined under Australia's Criminal Code Act 1995" and that, "he was a terrorist, clearly influenced by IS".[181]

The chief of ASIO Duncan Lewis confirmed that he believed Monis to be a terrorist.[179] However, former counter-terrorism adviser to the White House, Richard Clarke, said, "I don't think this was a lone wolf terrorist, I don't think this was a terrorist at all, I think this was someone who was committing suicide by police as a lot of people with mental problems do, and now, if they say they're a terrorist, if they say they're somehow associated with ISIS or Al Qaeda, it becomes a major event that shuts down the city and gets international attention. This was a person with a mental problem who tried to gain attention and succeeded, tried to shut down the city and succeeded, merely by putting up a flag that was something like the flag of ISIS."[13]

Prof Greg Barton (from Deakin University) and Dr Clarke Jones (ANU) told the inquest that Monis was a loner and had mental health problems, and was desperate to attach himself to something. Clarke suggested that if the Rebels had accepted his membership then the siege might not have happened. Roger Shanahan from the Lowy institute said that if Monis had followed ISIS direction he would have just killed everyone. [178]

Queensland University of Technology criminologist Mark Lauchs said it was important to not describe the siege as a "terrorist attack". Lauchs said Monis was simply a deranged person running a hostage situation. "This incident was not about religion and neither was it a terrorist attack, but given that perception by the paraphernalia Monis used."[177] The Australian prime minister said, "[Man Haron Monis] had a long history of violent crime, infatuation with extremism and mental instability...As the siege unfolded yesterday, he sought to cloak his actions with the symbolism of the ISIL death cult.".[13]

Scholars and social commentators have debated whether Monis was a terrorist and whether his actions could be classified as an act of terrorism. There is doubt as to whether or not Monis fit the definition of a lone wolf terrorist.

Debate whether this is a terrorist event

Treasurer Joe Hockey declared the siege to be a "terrorist incident" under the Terrorism Insurance Act 2003.[174][175][176] The Act means that insurance exclusions for terrorist incidents do not apply if such a declaration is made.[174]

Insurance declaration

Designation of the event as terrorism


The hearings are divided into blocks of a couple of weeks. The first, which started on 25 May 2015, queried people who knew Monis to get background information. The second started on 17 August 2015 to consider Monis's bail application. Further blocks that investigate how the police dealt with the siege itself will be withheld from the public "in the interests of the families".[173]

An inquest, mandatory whenever people die in a police operation, began as scheduled on 29 January 2015, presided over by the State Coroner, Michael Barnes. Its aim is "to determine how the [three] deaths occurred, the factors that contributed to them and whether they could have been prevented".[170][171][172]


The review suggested, in addition to the reforms to the bail laws and "new programmes to counter violent extremism", that a review of immigration policies and visa applications should be undertaken.[168] The review suggested that the gun that Monis used had lawfully entered the country, possibly as early as the 1950s,[169] and had fallen into the "grey market" after not being included in the gun buyback schemes of 1996 and 2002.[168]

[166] Moris had been granted bail while charged for several violent offences. However, bail laws had since been tightened in this regard. Monis obtained his firearm illegally and was never granted a license.[166] The review found that the [166] The review found that the judgements made by government agencies were reasonable. It suggested only modest changes to laws and procedures, taking the view that "introducing substantial further controls involves a larger choice about the sort of society we wish to live in and is properly the province of the public and our elected representatives".

The findings of the Federal–State joint review were released on 22 February 2015.[166] The report covered Monis' earlier interactions with the government, his access to firearms, and the government response to Monis including problems correlating his various aliases. The report's terms of reference did not cover the controversial[167] police actions during the siege itself, such as the nature of the negotiations or the final assault.[166]

Federal–State joint review

Following the siege, officers from the New South Wales Police Force and the Australian Federal Police went to the Belmore home of Monis' partner Amirah Droudis, and removed property.[162] Her bail was revoked after a hearing on 22 December 2014.[163] Investigations by Australian security agencies and monitoring of suspects following the siege revealed increased "terror chatter".[164][165]

Federal and state governments announced a joint review to be led by Michael Thawley from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and Blair Comley of the New South Wales Department of Premier and Cabinet.[161]

Police investigations include a "critical incident" investigation undertaken by NSW police;[158] headed by Detective Inspector Angelo Memmolo[159] and an enquiry conducted by the Australian Federal Police.[160]

A number of organisations announced formal investigations.

The cafe with a memorial to the victims on 7 January
The Lindt cafe two days after with padding on the shattered windows
The crime scene two days after the siege


Two weeks after the siege, Dabiq, a magazine published by the ISIL editorialised on Monis' actions and attempted to claim him as one of their own, in a response that an expert described as "absolutely predictable".[155] The magazine lauded Monis' actions and their effect on the city.[156] The al Qaeda-produced magazine Inspire also praised Monis' actions.[157]

Terrorist organisations

Following the two deaths during the hostage situation, the Katrina Dawson Foundation was established, with the aim of supporting educational opportunities for women.[152] The then Beyond Blue.[153] The first donation, of $51,000, came from Lindt Australia.[154]

Charitable foundations

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key,[146] Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper,[147] Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi,[148] UK Prime Minister David Cameron,[149] and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak[150] also expressed their concern about the incident. In addition, the Israeli embassy in Australia stated that it stood with Australia in the face of terror.[151]

United States President Barack Obama called the Prime Minister to express his condolences on behalf of the United States. According to the White House, Obama praised the "Australian public's embrace of #illridewithyou and the Muslim leaders who have disavowed the actions of the hostage taker", and "Australia's rejection of any violence taken in the name of religion and the fear this violence seeks to stoke." The President also conveyed the United States' willingness to provide assistance in the aftermath of the situation.[125] United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, said the United States stood ready to provide Australia with any assistance required in "determining the facts of the case, assisting the victims and holding accountable anyone and everyone responsible for this act of terror".[144] Citing this event, the United States issued a global travel alert to its citizens, to be alert for possible terrorist attacks within public venues.[145]

Iran Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Marzieh Afkham, strongly condemned the taking of hostages as "inhuman" and also stated that the Australian authorities had been repeatedly warned about Monis.[141][142][143]

During the siege, a spokesman for the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Baird, said, "We urge all Canadians in Sydney to use extra precaution and limit their movements as authorities handle this situation."[140]


St James' Church, which had been within the exclusion zone,[83] held a "Service of Remembrance and Reflection" on the afternoon of 19 December. The service was attended by about 400 people, most of them members of the legal profession.

The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, invoked the special prayers in the Roman Missal from the "mass in times of civil disturbance"[138] and a memorial service was held at St Mary's Cathedral, on the morning of 19 December.[139]

In Martin Place, the 2014 traditional Hanukkah menorah presented a message of support: "May the lights of the festival of Hanukkah bring comfort and warmth to our nation".[137]

Order of Service of memorial for Dawson and Johnson in St James' Church on 19 December 2014

Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, the Grand Mufti of Australia, condemned the incident in a statement released on 15 December.[20][134] The same afternoon, around fifty Muslim groups issued a joint statement in which they condemned the incident.[20] The Australian Ahmadiyya Muslim Association condemned the incident, the national president saying that "such actions are criminal and totally contrary to the teachings of Islam."[135] Egypt's Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam also condemned the attack.[136]

One day after the siege, police blocked off the area of Martin Place involved

During the siege, Sanier Dandan, president of the Lebanese Muslim Association, informed ABC News that Australian Muslim leaders were meeting online for discussions as to how the Muslim community could help with the situation. He added, "Regardless, we have a hostage situation. Whether he is someone who belongs to the Australian Muslim community or not, we are still waiting for information to be provided by police and based on that if there's something the Muslim community can do or assist, we are there."[132][133]

Religious organisations

Volunteers from the Rural Fire Service, the State Emergency Service and the Red Cross began clearing the flowers on 22 December after consultation with the families, because rain was expected. It was announced that the condolence books would be bound in several volumes and one complete copy provided to each family.[130] The messages on the many cards were to be digitised.[131]

On the morning of the siege, after police declared the crisis to be over, a makeshift memorial began to take shape in Martin Place. From the first bunch of lilies, tributes developed into a field of flowers that "you can smell before you can see" and which was extensively reported and photographed.[22][127][128] The Prime Minister and NSW Premier were among many in the community to lay flowers at the memorial in a demarcated space.[129] Flowers were also taken to suburban Lindt shops.

"Field of flowers"

During and immediately following the incident, some in the community expressed concern about an increased potential for violence or intimidation directed at Muslims in Australia.[120] For example, the head of the Australian Muslim Women's Association told the media there was an increase in anti-Muslim messages being posted on [126]

#illridewithyou hashtag

A magistrate who had granted Monis bail and the lawyers who had represented him in his court appearances received death threats in the days after the attack. This reaction was described by the Bar Association as "understandable but wrong-headed", as magistrates have to deal with cases as they come before them on the basis of the law at the time.[119]

Flags on all NSW government buildings, including the Sydney Harbour Bridge, flew at half-mast to honour the hostages who lost their lives at the café.[118]

Chalk messages written on Martin Place after the event.

Thousands of people visited the site in the first few days after the incident to pay tribute to the victims.[115] Among them were members of the families of Dawson and Johnson. Johnson's father was accompanied by rabbis Levi Wolff and Zalmen Kastel, Hindu priest Pandit Ramachandra, the Reverend Bill Crews and Sheikh Wesam Charkawi.[116] Dawson's young daughter left her own note.[117]

Members of the public sign condolence books in Martin Place after the siege


The Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, on the morning of 16 December, urged Australians to see this as a "one-off event", stating, "We're an inclusive multicultural community and we need to deal with this together".[113] Governor-General of Australia, Sir Peter Cosgrove, released a statement sympathising with the families, commending the work of the police involved, and urging Australians to "unite in our resolve to protect what we value most—our way of life, our care and respect for each other".[114]

The Premier of New South Wales, Mike Baird, addressed the media during the stand-off, and stated "we are being tested today... in Sydney. The police are being tested, the public is being tested, but whatever the test we will face it head on and we will remain a strong democratic, civil society. I have full confidence in the Police Commissioner and the incredible work of the NSW police force.[20][112]

The Prime Minister convened the National Security Committee of Cabinet to give briefings on the situation[16][109][110] and said "Australians should be reassured that our law enforcement and security agencies are well trained and equipped and are responding in a thorough and professional manner."[111] He later said, "The whole point of politically motivated violence is to scare people out of being themselves. Australia is a peaceful, open, and generous society. Nothing should ever change that and that's why I would urge all Australians today to go about their business as usual", and "Australians should be reassured by the way our law enforcement and security agencies responded to this brush with terrorism."[8]



Monis never had a gun license, and no weapons were found when police raided his home in 2013.[105] The weapon that Monis used, a sawn-off French made Manufrance La Salle pump-action shotgun, was more than 50 years old.[106] Police believe the weapon was imported in the 1950s, when no registration was required.[105] Monis had 23 shotgun cartidges of different brands on him, between 15 to 20 years old.[106][107][108]

Jeremy Gormly SC, counsel assisting the inquest, summarized Monis as "a complex, disturbed individual desperate for recognition and status but completely lacking the skills or achievements to bring that dream to life". Gormly summarized that "Monis could be plausible, courteous and controlled, but he was also almost entirely consumed in his own self-importance. ... By 2014 he owned no property, was in debt, and had developed no employment skills. His attempts to develop a personal, religious following ... had failed. ... He was facing future serious criminal charges... he had made no public impact of note on the Australian political scene". Monis may have felt that he had "little left to live for".[104]

Monis was identified as the hostage-taker and named early on the morning of 16 December.[96] He had an extensive record of prosecutions and criminal convictions in Australia. Monis was convicted for criminal use of the postal service to "menace, harass or cause offence", for a campaign protesting the presence of Australian troops in Afghanistan, by writing letters to the families of soldiers killed there, in which he called the soldiers murderers.[97][98] On 12 December, three days before the siege, Monis lost his appeal against his conviction for criminal use of the postal service in the High Court of Australia.[99] His criminal history also included a charge of accessory to murder relating to the death of his former wife, numerous charges of sexual assault,[100][101] aggravated indecent assault,[96][101] and common assault.[102] On 14 April 2014, Monis was charged with three sexual assault offences against a woman and remanded in custody. He was granted bail on 26 May, six days after the Bail Act in New South Wales was rewritten based on recommendations by the New South Wales Law Reform Commission.[103] On 10 October, he was charged with another 40 sexual assault offences against six more women, and his bail was continued.[7]

Man Haron Monis

Gunman Man Haron Monis

Uber's fares for travel in Sydney increased dramatically during the event under the company's automated system that calculates fees based on demand, which led to online backlash against the company. Uber subsequently refunded excessive fares and provided free rides out of the CBD.[95]

Trains did not stop at Martin Place railway station during the incident. Transport for NSW advised people to stay away from the CBD. Road closures prevented southbound access to the Cahill Expressway, York Street, and Harbour Street, and northbound access to the Cahill Expressway, and all traffic was diverted to the Sydney Harbour Tunnel.[91][92] On the morning of 16 December, road diversions remained in place and Martin Place train station remained closed.[93] In the evening of 16 December, Elizabeth Street, Macquarie Street and Hunter Street were opened to traffic.[94]

Police advised people in the area bounded by Elizabeth, and Macquarie streets, bordering Martin Place, to remain indoors and away from windows.[88] Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, and ANZ closed their CBD branches for the day.[20] The State Library was also closed.[89] Numerous other buildings, including David Jones stores, executive offices for the New South Wales Parliament, criminal courts for the Supreme Court, the Downing Centre, and "several city legal chambers" were evacuated, as were the facilities of the Seven Network, situated directly across from the café, forcing The Morning Show to suspend transmission. Police established an emergency centre in nearby Hyde Park, Sydney in response to the unfolding situation with emergency services sent to the area to respond to any immediate threats and evacuees were relocated to the park as a safety precaution.[45][90]

After the siege began, a staged exclusion zone was established[83] with thousands of people evacuated from nearby buildings, including from the floors above the café.[84] The Sydney Opera House was evacuated after a suspicious package was found; however, reports were unconfirmed by police.[85][86] The US Consulate General in Sydney, located in Martin Place, was also evacuated.[87] Some Sydney schools were put in "white level lockout" due to the hostage situation, which meant that no school group was permitted to leave the school grounds.[16]

Desolated George Street during the siege.
Road closures on King Street
Police blocking Martin Place near Lindt café

Evacuations and closures

Memorial services for Johnson and Dawson were held on 23 December: Johnson's in the morning at St Stephen's Uniting Church, Sydney, and Dawson's in the afternoon in the Great Hall of the University of Sydney.[76][77][78] Interviews with some of the hostages were later recorded for television and broadcast,[79] amid some controversy.[80][81][82]

Three hostages and a police officer were wounded by police gunfire during the raid. The three hostages were Marcia Mikhael, who was shot in the leg; Robyn Hope, a 75-year-old woman who was shot in the shoulder; and Louisa Hope, her 52-year-old daughter, who was shot in the foot.[73] All three were in a stable condition after treatment.[3] Paolo Vassallo, one of the five hostages who initially escaped the scene, was hospitalised for a pre-existing condition.[74] The other hostages were identified as John O'Brien, Stefan Balafoutis, Elly Chen, Jieun Bae, Harriette Denny, Viswakanth Ankireddy, Joel Herat, Fiona Ma, Jarrod Hoffman, Puspendu Ghosh, Selina Win Pe, and Julie Taylor.[75]

Tori Johnson, the 34-year-old manager of the café, died after being shot by Monis. Katrina Dawson, a 38-year-old barrister, was killed by ricocheting police bullets.[71][72]

Authorities did not release an estimate of the number of hostages inside the café during the siege. After the siege, a total of 18 hostages was confirmed—eight staff and ten customers of the café including lawyers and Westpac employees with offices close by.[70] Initial estimates varied, with some significantly overestimating the number.[4]


The following day, NSW and federal police raided three homes of people who had been contacted in the attempt to source the flag. Kay assumes that her conversations had been monitored. Kay said she would help police in another crisis, but "with this incident they have not built trust at all. You don't understand...the fear that [the AFP and ASIO] create, and how they stalk...members of our community..."[69] Lawyer Zali Burrows questioned the purpose of the police contacting Kay in the first place, stating, "Why didn't they just print [a flag]?"[69]

At around 2:00 pm on 15 December, police contacted Rebecca Kay, a member of the Muslim community, and asked her to help source an ISIS flag for Monis. Kay contacted many people in the Muslim community but ultimately the police sourced their own flag. However, the flag was never given to Monis.[69]

Flag raids

At the inquest, Counsel assisting the coroner, Jeremy Gormley SC, said, "No shot fired by Mr Monis, other than the one that struck and killed Mr Johnson, struck anyone."[15] Mitchell McAlister, who was a tactical assaulter with 2nd Commando Tactical Assault Group questioned the police use of M4A1 carbines with high powered 5.56 mm rounds that could have "dangerous effects in a dense and enclosed environment."[65] It was also unclear why 22 shots were fired by police, of which 13 hit Monis.[53][66][67][68]

Police declared the siege over soon after, later confirming that Monis was killed in the raid.[1][62] Two hostages had died, and another three were injured by bullets. One police officer, whose face was grazed by a bullet, was discharged from hospital later in the day.[3][63][64]

Alternatively, police may have begun the raid in response to seeing Johnson being shot. Johnson was forced to kneel on the floor before Monis shot him in the back of the head.[60] The shot was witnessed by a police sniper, perhaps before the raid began.[60] There had been some consideration given to starting the raid before Monis acted in any way.[61]

There are conflicting reports as to what triggered the raid. It was initially reported that hostage Tori Johnson's attempt to wrest the gun from Monis may have been the trigger.[58] However, hostage Joel Herat said that the shot that prompted the police response was a warning shot fired when the hostages kicked down a door in an attempt to escape, and that Monis killed Johnson only after the police raid was instigated.[59]

Shortly after 2:00 am on 16 December, a "very loud bang" was heard and several additional hostages fled from the building.[52] At 2:14 am, after hearing an identical noise from inside the building, heavily armed Tactical Operations Unit police threw 11 stun grenades[53] as they stormed the café, firing 22 shots,[54] seven of which struck Monis, after which further hostages ran from the building in two groups.[20][52][55][56][57]

Raid and end of siege

At around 3:37 pm, two hostages, John O'Brien and barrister Stefan Balafoutis, escaped from the front entrance of the building, followed by a third hostage, an employee, Paolo Vassallo, who ran out from a fire exit at the side of the building.[4][31][50] At around 4:58 pm, two female hostages, both employees, Jieun Bae and Elly Chen, escaped by running from another entrance of the building and were met by Tactical Operations Unit officers.[4] After the escape, Monis threatened to kill hostages.[51]

Crowds outside the Tiffany & Co. store in Martin Place during the evening

Escape of five hostages

During the early stages of the siege, the Australian government and NSW authorities did not label the event as a terrorist attack;[47][48] however, as the siege continued, NSW police authorised the engagement of the state's counter-terrorism task force, treating the incident as an act of terrorism.[49]

Several hostages made contact with media outlets and relayed Monis' demands to them. At the request of the New South Wales Police Force, they were not published during the siege.[9][45] The social media profiles of the hostages were also used to relay demands.[46]

Belinda Neil, who was a negotiator for the NSW police, said that in negotiations, "[W]e want to try and talk to the hostage-taker. ...[W]e want to find out why he's there, why is he doing this, and we don't just go into this situation hoping to resolve it in half an hour."[42] This approach would be consistent with the Behavioral Change Stairway Model.[43] However, Mikhael stated that no such negotiation took place.[39] Habib said that he called both the police and the Attorney General twice during the raid, but they did not return his calls.[41] Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione confirmed during the siege that "we're not dealing directly with him ... we do not have direct contact with the offender.".[44]

Mamdouh Habib said he knew Monis well and offered to help police negotiate with him. He believed that Monis was "sick and disturbed" over his failure to gain access to his children, and said Monis could trust him to get his message out.[41] Other Muslim leaders also offered to help, including the Grand Mufti of Australia, Ibrahim Abu Mohamed. All such offers were rejected by police who said that that was because they had no control over what the untrained negotiators might say or do.[41] However, Mikhael said that after the request to speak to the Prime Minister was refused: "It was then that I knew that there was not going to be any negotiation and we were just left there. ...They were waiting for him to kill someone or shoot something so they [could] come in. ...There was nothing proactive about that operation, nothing."[39]

Monis demanded to speak to the Australian Prime Minister live on radio, but this demand was rejected. This was relayed by hostage Marcia Mikhael, who said that she "lost it" when told that the Prime Minister was too busy, saying, "I don't care what [Abbott] is doing right now...I'm sure there's nothing more important happening in Australia...than the lives of the people in this café..."[39][40]

Hostages were ordered to hold up a Black Standard flag, with the shahādah in white Arabic letters (an Islamic creed declaring: "There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of God"), against the window of the café.[16][17] Some news reports initially mistook it for the flag used by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).[38]

Monis also stated there were four "devices" located around Sydney. However, New South Wales Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said that none of the alleged devices were found during investigations.[35] Monis also demanded that a hostage ask all media to broadcast that "this is an attack on Australia by the Islamic State".[36] In addition, he demanded that an Islamic State flag be delivered to him, although the request was never fulfilled.[37]

Monis was bearded, wearing a black cap and wearing a black headband with the inscription, in Arabic: "We are ready to sacrifice for you, O Mohammad."[30] He was carrying a blue sports bag, and armed with a shotgun.[4][9][31][32] Monis used hostages as human shields.[33] He had disabled the automatic sliding glass doors of the café.[34]

The situation began at 9:44 am AEDT on 15 December (22:44 UTC, 14 December), when Monis—who had entered the Lindt Chocolate Café at 53 Martin Place, Sydney, at 8:33—forced Tori Johnson, the manager of the café, to phone 000.[28][29] The café is located directly across from the Seven News television studios, and near the Reserve Bank of Australia, the headquarters of the Commonwealth Bank, Westpac bank, and Martin Place underground train station.

Hostages were forced to hold this flag against windows.
Onlookers in Martin Place during the siege of the Lindt Café
Map indicating the location of the incident. Martin Place is denoted in blue, towards the centre of the map

Hostage-taking and negotiations

A man believed to be Monis was seen wandering near the cafe at 8:30 am, over an hour before the siege. It is unclear whether he had any plan to create a hostage situation at that stage.[26][27]


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