AUSTRALIANS — and our friends across the world, especially those who have experienced the outrage of a terror incident — are entitled to feel violated this morning, as the country wakes to a second day of the Sydney siege; the professionalism of response personnel is laudable, yet the welfare of hostages must be weighed against the stability or otherwise of their captor. If the opportunity to do so presents, Police should just shoot the bastard.
There are some readers who will not approve of my advocacy of a summary end to the outrage being played out in Sydney today, as the siege in the Lindt cafe in Martin Place enters its second day.
But the outrage being played out involving an unquantified number of hostages has the potential to turn far uglier than it already has, up to and including a significant and needless loss of life at the hands of what can hardly be described — based on information in the public domain — as a quality individual.
Despite the fact hostages were reportedly made to hold an Islamic State flag across the windows of the cafe at one point (and that the flag remained visible for much of the day yesterday), this is not — as first feared — an organised terror attack; rather, a so-called “lone wolf” acting independently, and said to be a “fringe Islamist.” At time of publication (1.30am, Melbourne time) the man has made no demands except to speak to Tony Abbott on commercial radio, and his motives are unknown.
And it needs to be noted that the mainstream Islamic community has co-operated fully with Australian authorities — as it should — and that there is no reason at all to believe it has any connection whatsoever to this incident.
Even so, the 49-year-old Iranian perpetrator — Man Haron Monis, also self-styled as “Sheik Haron” — is “well known” to Police; having arrived in Australia in 1996 as a refugee he apparently has a lengthy criminal record, including charges over the sexual assault and indecent assault of a woman in 2002, and is currently on bail pending other charges arising from the murder of his ex-wife last year.
In short, the guy shouldn’t even be in Australia as far as I’m concerned: he should have been sent back to wherever was so terrible he fled here to begin with. And if that wasn’t possible, he should never have been released on bail. The fact he was makes a mockery of the community’s expectations of due legal process. The siege underway in Sydney proves it.
Armed with a sawn-off shotgun and a machete, this monument to Australia’s refugee intake program is now holding perhaps 20 innocent bystanders hostage in a one-man reign of terror that has shut down a large portion of the Sydney CBD, disrupted the lives of Sydneysiders generally, and caused great outrage and angst that has resonated far beyond Sydney.
And the only positive thing I can find to say about this incident (aside from the fact none of the hostages have been killed) is that five of those held captive have managed to escape.
But the thing that really concerns me (as I wind up for the day for a few hours’ sleep) is the fact this fellow is known to be irrational, is clearly violent and unstable, and — with the siege already 16 hours old as I publish this — must be growing tired.
There is no telling what he might do if he feels he is losing control over the situation he has created as the veil of sleep begins to descend on him.
He may opt to simply lash out, which would be the worst possible development in an already fraught situation.
And as traumatised as those hostages remaining trapped in the Lindt cafe must be, their ordeal must surely grow worse — and more scarring — the longer it continues.
I don’t pretend for a moment to possess the full facts available to relevant officials and service personnel; these details are rightly known only to those directly involved in dealing with the crisis and who have tried to bring it to a peaceful conclusion.
But in making comment I simply relay an opinion I hold, and one which I have found, during the day yesterday, to be held by the vast majority of the people with whom the siege arose in conversation.
The best thing that could happen, of course, is that he could release the prisoners, hand himself over to the NSW Police, and the whole unfortunate business be quietly dealt with; and this clearly remains a possibility.
The next-best option would be for Monis to fall asleep, and for his hostages to overwhelm and restrain him.
But in the absence of either of those things coming to pass — and if Police around Martin Place can find their way into the building quietly through a roof, acquire a suitable vantage point, or obtain a clear enough sight through the glass windows with a heavy calibre weapon — I have little compunction in suggesting they simply shoot the bastard.
Any concern that such a move would merely inflame others, and inspire copycat and/or retributive events, should be weighed carefully against the ongoing impact of the siege on those trapped inside the cafe and the growing traumatisation a drawn-out and fruitless endeavour to end the event peacefully might cause them in the longer term.
In the end, the welfare of his victims (which is what they are) must be the first priority of those who seek to liberate them; and after almost a full day of the obscenity having now played out, a single fatal shot might also be the easiest, safest and fastest way to bring it to an end.
There is a suggestion in the mainstream press this morning that the siege could drag on for days. It shouldn’t, and it shouldn’t be permitted to.
If it is safe for Police to do so, they should simply shoot the bastard. It might be the least damaging of all the options to deal with this monster that are presently being canvassed.
Short of unconditional surrender by the bandit, however, there is no ideal solution to this obscenity.