There is no doubt Lindt Cafe gunman Man Haron Monis was a “radicalised terrorist”, the inquest into the Sydney siege has heard.
Security and terrorism expert Professor Bruce Hoffman appeared before the inquest via video link from the United States on Tuesday, telling the hearing Monis’s attack on the Lindt Cafe had the hallmarks of a terrorist act.
“It was political in its aims and motivations,” Professor Hoffman told the inquest.
“It was motivated at least on behalf of an organisation or at the inspiration of an organisation.
“I would argue it was designed to have far-reaching psychological repercussions beyond the immediate victims.”
When asked if Monis’s declining mental health had any bearing on whether the siege could still be classified as a terrorist act, Professor Hoffman said it did not.
“I would still have confidence in characterising him as a radicalised terrorist,” he told the inquest.
“I think he has a long trajectory of radicalisation.
“He developed a political case and exploited it and acted upon it.”
But forensic psychologist Dr Kate Barrelle disagreed with that assessment, telling the inquest she believed Monis was a “lone wolf” who did not behave like a terrorist.
Dr Barrelle told the inquest that Monis used issues such as radical Islam and the war in Afghanistan as “crutches or invented reasons for his statements and stands” and that his mental health may have interplayed with these beliefs.
“Do you think he behaved like a terrorist in the siege?” Counsel Assisting the inquest Jeremy Gormly asked.
“No,” Dr Barrelle told the hearing.
“His behaviour was highly typical of someone who was desperate and had backed themselves into a corner.”
The radicalisation expert also told the hearing she believed it was several factors, such as his declining mental health, his deep self-interest and the fact he was facing a string of serious charges, which prompted Monis to stage his attack on the Lindt Cafe.
“There was a tidal wave of issues coming at him,” she told the inquest.
“It appeared clear that he seemed almost desperate to have his say and prosecute his case before he was incarcerated.”
Not enough evidence Monis was a flight risk: prosecutor
The public prosecutor who lost the case to keep Monis behind bars told the inquest he did not think there was enough evidence to argue the gunman was a flight risk.
The prosecutor, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, unsuccessfully opposed Monis’s release on bail on a charge of being an accessory to his ex-wife’s murder in December 2013.
The inquest previously heard homicide detectives sent the prosecutor an email and supplied him with a letter detailing the reasons why Monis was a flight risk and should be refused bail.
Those reasons included his business links in Malaysia, his lack of community ties in Australia and that fact he had recently been handed back his Australian passport.
But the prosecutor told the inquest he believed that evidence was not specific enough to prove Monis was a flight risk.
“The view that I took is that mere possession of an Australian passport was not specific evidence to argue flight risk,” the prosecutor told the hearing.
“It was nothing that arose to the level that gave me concern or gave me the ability to make submissions to the court on the probability the person wouldn’t appear in court, if granted bail.”