MOSCOW, December 16 (Sputnik) — Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Tuesday that "sick fantasies" of a "deeply disturbed" gunman with a criminal background led to the death of three innocent persons in the Sydney cafe siege.
Speaking before journalists, Abbott said the 16-hour siege claimed the lives of "decent, innocent people who got caught up in the sick fantasy of a deeply disturbed individual."
Man Haron Monis, an Iranian refugee and self-styled radical cleric who took several dozens of customers and staff at the Lindt Cafe captive, was reportedly on bail for some 40 charges of sexual assault and alleged involvement in the death of his ex-wife, according to the BBC.
"It's pretty obvious that the perpetrator was a deeply disturbed individual [with] a long history of crime, a long history of mental instability, and infatuation with extremism," Abbott told reporters in Sydney.
He forced the hostages to hold up against the cafe's window a black banner with Arabic writing, initially erroneously identified as that of the Islamic State (IS) group, raising fears of an Islamist terrorist attack.
In his speech, Abbott linked the attack on the cafe, which he described as "politically motivated," to the rise of the IS group in the Middle East.
Several Muslim groups in the country earlier condemned the attack, describing the inscription on the flag as a "testimony of faith that has been misappropriated by misguided individuals."
Concerns have been raised that the recent act of violence by an Islamic radical could lead to a surge in hostility against Muslims, prompting some Australians to offer to escort them work.