Iran condemns deadly Sydney hostage-taking, identifies gunman by another name

Paramedics remove a person on a stretcher from the Lindt cafe, where hostages were held at Martin Place in central Sydney early this morning. Australian security forces on Tuesday stormed the Sydney cafe ending a standoff that had dragged on for more
Paramedics remove a person on a stretcher from the Lindt cafe, where hostages were held at Martin Place in central Sydney early this morning. Australian security forces on Tuesday stormed the Sydney cafe ending a standoff that had dragged on for more than 16 hours. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

TEHERAN (AFP) - Teheran on Monday condemned the deadly hostage-taking in Australia reportedly by an Iranian-born gunman, branding it an act foreign to Islam, state media quoted a government official as saying.

"Undertaking such inhuman acts and provoking fear and panic in the name of merciful Islam is not in any way justifiable," Iranian foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said, according to IRNA news agency.

Hostage-taker, Man Haron Monis, an Iranian granted political asylum in Australia in 1996, was killed along with two of his 17 hostages when police stormed a Sydney cafe early Tuesday to end a day-long siege.

"The psychological state of mind of this individual, who took refuge in Australia almost two decades ago, has been discussed several times with Australians officials, who knew his (mental) condition," said Afkham.

The Australian newspaper called 50-year-old Monis a "self-styled sheikh" with a history of violent offences and who was on bail on charges of being an accessory in his ex-wife's murder.

Iranian media identified him a Mohamad Hassan Manteghi, a former Shiite cleric who changed his name when he moved to Australia.

A month ago, according to Iranian media, Monis declared on his official website allegiance to the leader of ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) group, a Sunni-led organisation that considers Shiites as heretics.

In Australia, Monis's former lawyer, Manny Conditsis, said the public could be assured that the siege was not the work of an organised terrorist group.

"This is a one-off random individual," he told broadcaster ABC. "It's not a concerted terrorism event or act. It's a damaged­ goods individual who's done something outrageous."