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I am an Iranian spy, the Americans want to interrogate me and call me Ayatollah: The mad ramblings of Sydney siege gunman – who once offered to ‘buy’ his lawyer a bride

  • Sydney siege inquest opened Monday and probed gunman’s background 
  • Man Haron Monis was a secretive character from a modest background 
  • Inquest also heard his marriage to first Australian wife was a ‘sham’
  • The second day of inquest heard from Monis’s lawyer from 2004 to 2005
  • Monis told his lawyer that he was a high ranking Iranian intelligence
  • Franklin Arguedas also told the inquest that Monis claimed that he was being targeted by the Australian Federal Police and spy agency ASIO

By

Candace Sutton

and
Sally Lee for Daily Mail Australia


Published:
23:08 EST, 25 May 2015

|
Updated:
23:19 EST, 25 May 2015

Lindt cafe gunman Man Haron Monis wanted to be treated like the prime minister of Australia when flying in and out of the country, an inquest into the Sydney siege has heard.

Monis’s paranoid ramblings were revealed on the second day of the Lindt cafe siege inquest, which opened on Monday, who told his then lawyer he had to change his name to ‘Ayatollah’ and also claimed that he was being targeted by the Australian Federal Police and spy agency ASIO.

His former lawyer Franklin Arguedas told the court on Tuesday that during one of their lunch meetings, Monis also said ‘if you ever want a wife I can organise one for you’.

On Monday the inquest heard that Monis lied about his age and staged a ‘sham wedding’ with his first Australian wife, Noleen Pal, and that he had also tried to join the Rebels bikie gang.

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Sydney siege gunman Man Haron Monis (left) tried to join the Rebels bikie gang

Sydney siege gunman Man Haron Monis (left) tried to join the Rebels bikie gang

John Valastro (left), director of passenger branch at Australian Customs and Border Protection, former boss of Lindt Cafe siege gunman Man Haron Monis, Hassan Zoabi (right), leave after giving evidence at the Lindt Cafe siege inquiry in Sydney on Tuesday
John Valastro (left), director of passenger branch at Australian Customs and Border Protection, former boss of Lindt Cafe siege gunman Man Haron Monis, Hassan Zoabi (right), leave after giving evidence at the Lindt Cafe siege inquiry in Sydney on Tuesday

John Valastro (left), director of passenger branch at Australian Customs and Border Protection, former boss of Lindt Cafe siege gunman Man Haron Monis, Hassan Zoabi (right), leave after giving evidence at the Lindt Cafe siege inquiry in Sydney on Tuesday

Monis, who told his lawyer he was a high ranking Iranian intelligence – who people were trying to find and kill, also made offers to procure women and millions of dollars in money making schemes.

Mr Franklin Arguedas, who was Monis’s lawyer from 2004 to 2005, told the inquest into the Lindt Cafe siege about his strange and moody behaviour over the 18 month period he worked for him.

Monis, who claimed he was being psychologically tortured by customs officers every time he travelled made Mr Arguedas write complaints to and hold a meeting with customs about his perception that he was targeted on his returns from overseas trips.

But Monis also complained when customs didn’t stop him on his arrival back from one trip to Singapore. 

In one nine page complaint letter to customs, Monis insisted that he had been informed that following the Bali bombings, the light sentence received by Bali bombing principal Abu Bakr Bashir and Schapelle Corby’s 20 year sentence for importing cannabis into Bali that ‘there are some individuals in the Australian government… want only targeting Muslim clerics with the intention of giving them a hard time’.

Monis hired Mr Arguedas to handle two minor matters relating to the repair of his vehicles and then retained him for the campaign against the Australian customs service.

The pair lunched two or three times weekly at the Sahara restaurant near Burwood in western Sydney where Monis insisted on wearing Muslim cleric’s gear and being addressed as Ayatollah.

‘When he was wearing jeans or normal shirt he would have to go and dress up as an ayatollah,’ Mr Arguedas said. 

Monis lied about his age and staged a 'sham wedding' with his first Australian wife, Noleen Pal

Monis lied about his age and staged a ‘sham wedding’ with his first Australian wife, Noleen Pal

Lindt Cafe siege survivor Louisa Hope (right) arrives at the second day of the Lindt Cafe siege inquiry

Lindt Cafe siege survivor Louisa Hope (right) arrives at the second day of the Lindt Cafe siege inquiry

Telling Mr Arguedas that he had to change his name and could not disclose his real address in Sydney because ‘people are after me’ and he ‘might be killed’, Monis explained that ‘he was previously a very high ranking officer of the Iranian government… and he would be taken out of the country by helicopter without a passport… either the American government or the Australian government would lift him out’.

Over lunch at the Sahara he offered Mr Arguedas a share in a $US2 million ransom for a man wanted by the Israeli embassy.

Monis also said to Mr Arguedas over lunch ‘if you ever want a wife I can organise one for you’, to which the lawyer replied ‘no, no, no thank you’.

Monis, who went by the name Ayatollah Haysom Mavros, told Mr Arguedas that he was trying to ‘bamboozle’ customs by flying to and back from New Zealand in the one day because of ‘deliberate psychological torture and singling out on most of his return journeys’ by customs officers.

But when Mr Arguedas suggested Monis should seek psychiatric counselling about his fears, Monis became red in the face, angry and said heatedly ‘are you telling me I am mad?’. 

Mr Arguedas also said Monis’s complaints about Australian customs came from his desire to ‘big note’ himself.

‘He wanted to be someone. He wanted to be a big person… to be treated like the prime minister’.  

Monis met Pal through his work as a 'clairvoyant and spiritual healer'. Monis told Pal he was 26, rather than his then age of 38, also went by the name Michael Hayson Mavros

Monis met Pal through his work as a ‘clairvoyant and spiritual healer’. Monis told Pal he was 26, rather than his then age of 38, also went by the name Michael Hayson Mavros

Another witness before the inquest who employed Monis as a security guard at Edensor Park’s Greenfields shopping centre in western Sydney described him as a polite softly spoken man who was sociable with the customers outside Franklins where he was guarding against shoplifting but who nevertheless revealed little about his home life and rarely laughed.

Monis worked at the shopping centre for at least two years from 1997 to 1999.

Hassan Zoabi, who managed Monis in the job and provided a reference for Man Monis in 1999 when he applied for a job as a security guard, said he was ‘clean, tidy, punctual… impeccable, a very polite man, he was softly spoken, he did his job very well’.

He prayed five times a day on a prayer rug in the maintenance room and told Mr Zoabi he was ‘well connected and related to people who were rulers in Iran’.

But Monis never spoke of any relationships or family in Australia and laughed ‘very rarely. You would have told a really good joke for him to crack a smile’.  

Members of Rebels Mount Druitt chapter who declined to provide a statement but one individual said 'Nobody really liked him and he was 'weird'

Members of Rebels Mount Druitt chapter who declined to provide a statement but one individual said ‘Nobody really liked him and he was ‘weird’

The inquest further heard that Australians lashed out at Monis in dozens of hateful emails when the Iranian immigrant was exposed as having sent hate mail to the families of soldier who died serving their country in Afghanistan.

Some of the ‘highly abusive, very offensive’ emails which had a ‘racist theme’ and several which contained death threats sent to Monis were read out at the Lindt cafe inquest.

The emails, many of them anonymous, were sent to Monis after he appeared in court in 2009 on charges of sending vile letters to the Diggers’ families and the family of man who died in the bombing of the Australian embassy in Jakarta.

One of the emails to Monis just said ‘Die’ 40 times in the email.

Another talked about ‘transsexuals and ragheads’.

Another read: ‘You Arabs are unAustralian and deserve to be killed in a very painful way’.

Another referred to people from the Middle East ‘going up in flames’.

Another told Monis he was ‘a spineless insect and I will crush you like the bug you are’.

One email said: ‘I have Muslim friends. You are not a Muslim. You are a mental patient who craves attention … please do us all a favour and die you pervert’.

Another email read: ‘your father was a Christian, your mother was a Pagan s***, f***ing gay f***’.

Monis used the letters when trying to apply for help from Amnesty International Australia. 

Pictures revealed at the inquest show Monis bought a motorbike and dressed like a bikie in an attempt to fit in with the Mount Druitt chapter in western Sydney

Pictures revealed at the inquest show Monis bought a motorbike and dressed like a bikie in an attempt to fit in with the Mount Druitt chapter in western Sydney

Amnesty’s refugee advocate lawyer in 2010 Catherine Wood said Monis showed her the letters during a long, ranting appeal for assistance in which he refused to look at her.

She said he looked at the male case worker but ‘didn’t look at me once’ while reciting his reasons for pleading for help.

‘He was standing on his soap box… painting himself as a noble victim. It was non-stop,’ Ms Wood said.

In Monis’s rant he complained he had been car-jacked, bashed up, attacked in his tent protesting outside parliament house in Sydney and was displaying a ‘strong sense of self delusional importance’ about complaints he sent to then Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd and the Queen.

In further evidence, Monis drew attention to himself by his grandstanding behaviour at Sydney airport and then complained he was being deliberately targeted and tortured.

A former customs official John Valastro said Monis sent letters saying ‘he was feeling anxious and he was being persecuted by customs officials in both New Zealand and Australia’ after he played up at the airport.

Mr Valastro was the director of the passengers branch at Sydney International airport in 2005.

He said at that time Monis made the complaints about persecution his behaviour after flying back into Sydney included incidents in which he would ‘stand in a queue and move to another queue and then he would look at customs officers’ until they noticed him and took action. 

Following a meeting with Monis and his lawyer to address the alleged complaints Monis sent Mr Valastro a threatening text message.

The SMS in May 2005 announced that Monis was planning a physical protest at the airport in which he said ‘I will chain my legs and hands. I hope God will prepare me for this protest’.  

People run with their hands up from the Lindt Cafe, Martin Place during a hostage standoff on December 16, 2014 in Sydney

People run with their hands up from the Lindt Cafe, Martin Place during a hostage standoff on December 16, 2014 in Sydney

This follows Monday’s inquest which heard that Man Haron Monis was a largely friendless figure rejected socially, even by the bikie groups he tried to join, and leading up to the siege ‘he was a man spiraling downward’.

The Lindt cafe siege inquest opened on Monday with junior counsel assisting the inquest and Sophie Callan revealing Monis tried to join the Rebels Motor Cycle Club in late 2012 or early 2013.

Pictures show Monis bought a motorbike and dressed like a bikie in an attempt to fit in with the Mount Druitt chapter in western Sydney. 

Ms Callan said police spoke to members of Rebels Mount Druitt chapter who declined to provide a statement but one individual said ‘Nobody really liked him and he was “weird”.’

It was also revealed on the first day of the inquest into the shooting Monis lied about his age and staged a ‘sham wedding’ with his first Australian wife, Noleen Pal.

Monis was rejected by the bikie gang in 2013 and they also took his motorbike

Monis was rejected by the bikie gang in 2013 and they also took his motorbike

Monis met Pal, an Australian of Fijian Indian background, through his work as a ‘clairvoyant and spiritual healer’. Monis told Pal he was 26, rather than his then age of 38, and also went by the name Michael Hayson Mavros.

Pal, who did not fit the usual profile of vulnerable women who Monis preyed on, started a relationship with the killer in 2002 after responding to one of his ads because she was ‘curious’.

A flyer advertising the 'spiritual healing' services of siege gunman Man Haron Monis

A flyer advertising the ‘spiritual healing’ services of siege gunman Man Haron Monis

The pair ‘married’ in 2003, however it was never legally recognised due to Monis still being married to his first wife in Iran, who he did not divorce until July, 2006.

The court heard Monis created more than 20 different aliases and fake religious titles, and kept the marriage to Pal secret from his few friends in Australia.

The inquest also heard Monis was often a burden on his friends, despite seeing them rarely.

‘The few friends he had he saw infrequently… but he did not hesitate to impose upon friends for financial support’.

Monis befriended a man he shared a prison cell with, but ‘he didn’t have much of a social network in Australia’, Jeremy Gormly SC told the inquest into the Lindt Cafe siege.

‘It seems that was a result of his own behaviour.’

The relationship between Monis and Pal ended in 2011, and in April 2013 she was murdered in western Sydney apartment block.  

Another witness said Monis’ ‘strange and weird’ behaviour is what led to him being kicked out of the Rebels bikie gangs he tried to join. 

‘He was strange and weird. Things didn’t add up with him he would say he had a lot of money but then he never had any,’ they said.

Ms Callan said Monis also attempted to ingratiate himself with the Ingleburn chapter of the Rebels.

‘Attempts to progress membership at the Rebels barely got off the ground,’ she said.

Ultimately he was rejected by the Rebels and they took his motorbike in 2013.

‘This initially might seem incongruous, but on reflection Mr Monis’s willingness to change his appearance, adopt the garb of a new persona and his attraction to a group he perhaps saw as exercising power and influence is not so surprising,’ Ms Callan said.

‘His constant goal in life is achieving significance.’

The inquest was told Monis' failure to join the Rebels bikie group was further proof his life was deteriorating 

The inquest was told Monis’ failure to join the Rebels bikie group was further proof his life was deteriorating 

Man Haron Monis was a very secretive character who came from a modest family background and was an average student, an inquest has heard

Man Haron Monis was a very secretive character who came from a modest family background and was an average student, an inquest has heard

Gormly said Monis’s attempts to join other groups – even the bikies – failed and that this combined with other failures meant that by late 2014 ‘his life was deteriorating’.

He said Monis had no money, no property, his attempts at gaining a personal religious following had failed, he’d lost a custody battle over his children, was facing a jail sentence over sexual assault charges and ‘his grandiose self-assurances of the past were simply not coming to fruition’.

Monis had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and psychotic episodes.

In September 2014 he wrote a letter to George Brandis ‘seeking legal advice to send a letter to Caliph Ibrahim, head of Islamic State’.

But the response told him to seek advice elsewhere.

On his website, Monis in November and December last year claimed allegiance to the Caliph.

Documents are delivered ahead of the inquest into the deaths arising from the Lindt cafe siege

Documents are delivered ahead of the inquest into the deaths arising from the Lindt cafe siege

Monis and two of his 17 hostages were killed when police dramatically stormed the Lindt chocolate cafe in the Sydney's financial district to end the siege in December 2014

Monis and two of his 17 hostages were killed when police dramatically stormed the Lindt chocolate cafe in the Sydney’s financial district to end the siege in December 2014

Earlier the inquest heard Monis sexually abused female clients at his Australian spiritual healing business after telling them sexual energy was needed to banish their black magic.

Ms Callan outlined Monis’ early activities after he moved to Australia from Iran, including his operation of a clairvoyant business he registered in 2001.

The inquest will probe gunman Monis’s background to understand if he was an IS-inspired terrorist or a ‘deranged individual’ seeking to deal with a private grievance in the most public way possible. 

The Lindt cafe gunman’s more extreme behaviour and his paranoia as he became more obsessed with Islam was shown in letters and web pages to the inquest.

Coroner Michael Barnes said the first tranche of evidence would centre on the hostage-taker, five months after he took 18 people hostage in the Lindt Cafe on December 15.

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