Sydney cafe gunman was removed from terror watch list, Australia PM says

Man Haron Monis, a 50-year-old Iranian-born, self-styled cleric described by Prime Minister Tony Abbott as deeply disturbed and who was responsible for a deadly siege in a Sydney cafe, was on the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation’s watch list in 2008 and 2009 but dropped for reasons that remain unclear, Abbott said Wednesday. Monis took 17 people hostage inside a downtown Sydney cafe on Monday. The siege ended 16 hours later in a barrage of gunfire when police rushed in to free the captives. Two hostages were killed along with Monis. The gunman had been monitored because he had sent a series of offensive letters to the families of dead Australian soldiers, Abbott said.

I don’t know why he dropped off the watch list in those days, I really don’t.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott

On Wednesday, the prime minister announced the Commonwealth and New South Wales governments will urgently conduct a review into the Sydney attack. The review will examine what information about Monis was held by authorities up until the siege, and how that information was shared. Barrister and mother of three Katrina Dawson, 38, and Lindt cafe manager Tori Johnson, 34, were killed in the siege, along with Monis. Fifteen other hostages survived the ordeal on Monday. It’s still unclear how the two hostages died, though local media said Johnson tried to grab the gun from Monis and Dawson was shielding her pregnant friend.