The Australian Broadcasting Company had earlier explained that Monis had been granted political asylum in Australia in 1996, and that he was on bail for a number of offenses. These include the charge of accessory to murder of his ex-wife, Noleen Hayson Pal, mother of two, who was stabbed and set on fire outside a western Sydney apartment complex earlier this year. The Telegraph explained that Monis’ defense over the murder charge featured an “elaborate” alibi, including the filming of a clock, asking for the time at a swimming pool and faking a car crash outside a police station.
Monis also faced over 40 sexual, aggravated and indecent assault charges, and was convicted last year of sending over a dozen offensive letters and video messages to the families of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan between 2007 and 2009, for which he was sentenced to 300 hours of community service. He unsuccessfully attempted to challenge the conviction.
The Guardian explained that Monis had converted from Shia to Sunni Islam just last week, making the declaration on his website. Prior to that, Monis had been criticized by Shia leaders, who urged Australian authorities to investigate him over his claims that he was an ayatollah. Last month he is also said to have written an angry letter to the Muslim community, calling on them to reject moderate Islam.
Monis had also left comments on Facebook branding Australians who supported US foreign policy as "racist and terrorist", saying: "Shame on Team Australia and shame on those racist and terrorist Australians who support the governments of America and its allies including Australia," the Sydney Morning Herald explained.
Monis’ former lawyer, Manny Conditsis, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that “his ideology was just so strong and so powerful that it clouds his vision for common sense and objectiveness.” Mr. Conditsis, who had defended Monis over the murder accessory charge, added that “knowing he was on bail for very serious offenses, knowing that while he was in custody some terrible things happened to him, I thought he may consider that he’s got nothing to lose…hence participating in something as desperate and outrageous as this.”
The BBC has reported that their monitoring has confirmed that Monis’ actions have so far failed to gain support among online jihadis, including supporters of Islamic State militant group.