As many as 40 hostages remained under the control of an Iranian Islamic extremist in a restaurant located in Sydney, Australia on Monday. Sheik Man Haron Monis was a known fugitive facing charges of sexual assault, and an accessory to murder. Symbols held up by some of the hostages indicated that he was associated with the terrorist group ISIS. Authorities warn that this type of situation is likely to happen in the United States.
The situation in Sydney began when the lone gunman entered the restaurant and began ordering staff and patrons to assemble while brandishing a weapon. Five of the hostages either escaped or were released by Man Haron Monis; all five were taken to the hospital, and one of the three men and two women had a pre-existing condition which required medical attention.
Negotiations with Sydney police lasted for 17 hours. When a loud ‘bang’ was heard from inside the café, authorities decided they could not wait any longer. They stormed inside as five more hostages ran out. After a storm of gunfire, three people were dead, and four were injured; one was a policeman shot in the face. The dead were two of the hostages, and Haron Monis.
Police have known Haron Monis for a long period of time. He had been accused of being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife, and with the sexual assault of a woman in 2002. He was also charged and convicted of using the postal service to send ‘disgusting’ letters to families of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Could what happened in Sydney happen in the United States? The question is redundant. It may be more easily accomplished in our country. All we have to do is remember a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, or an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. And if it does happen here, the death toll would undoubtedly be much higher. It is easy to obtain assault rifles and high output magazines anywhere at any time.
Two invasions of Muslim nations, and a new war in northern Iraq and Syria, have resulted in irrevocable distrust and hatred of the United States. The attacks on 9/11 were designed and carried out by extremists. It is inconceivable that an individual or group will not attempt, and likely succeed in actions similar to what occurred in Sydney.
9/11 was a major success for Al Qaeda. They created a nation of people who now exist in a constant state of fear; they succeeded in the elimination of some of our freedoms when our government overreacted and passed the Patriot Act; and they helped to create a form of religious fanaticism in America, where many of our nation’s people believe that not being Christian is un-American.
Extremism creates reverse-extremism, and hatred only results in more hatred; and anger creates fear.
Our nation’s leaders must re-learn to be diplomats first. They must subdue the rhetoric, put down the weapons, and find a path to mutual respect and trust.
Individuals such as Haron Monis are fueled by words of anger, and the hunger for revenge. Two innocent people were killed in that Sydney café. The loss of two human beings who never declared war on anyone are forever lost to their families and friends. The lives of their families and friends have been changed forever.
By James Turnage