Is this the reason why there is reluctance to call lone wolves terrorists?

Before entering the Lindt Chocolat Cafe last week, Man Haron Monis was dismissed as a loner with a large ego, a religious ideologue rejected by fellow Muslims.

In the past, the Iranian-born 50-year-old had often picked up a pen to express himself, writing countless letters seen as threatening by recipients ranging from Qantas airlines to grief-torn families of Australian soldiers who had died in Afghanistan. The belligerent missives had resulted in criminal charges, which a court had just refused to dismiss.

At the cafe, Monis carried a firearm instead of a pen. And by the time that the hostage-taking drama had concluded, two cafe-goers were dead along with the self-declared cleric, who had donned a black headband indicating he was a “soldier of Muhammad”.

“He would rather die than go to prison,” said his former lawyer, Manny Conditsis. “He felt he had nothing to lose. I have got no doubt that when he went into that building (the cafe), he knew he was not going to come out alive.”

In the days since the deadly attack, debate has swirled across Australia about whether to term it an act of religious-inspired political terrorism or an aberrant action by a lunatic with a giant thirst for attention.

The discussion has hinged, for some, on fears of reprisals against Muslims.

The British have made this iconic poster during WWII:  Keep calk and carry on.  The first thing that Australian PM Tony Abbot said was for people to go about their normal day.  You should see the Israelis too – apart from ducking when Hamas is chucking their rockets over, they live life to the full.  

You can’t let terrorists change the way you live.  If you do, they win.

But it appears there is another reason why clear acts of terrorism are being played down.

“Terrorism is violence perpetrated for political purposes, and despite any personal, legal or mental problems Monis might have faced, he clearly intended this incident to be an act of terrorist theatre,” said security analyst Scott Stewart of Stratfor, a Texas-based security analysis group. “Just because Monis was more of a bumbling Kramer than a deadly Carlos the Jackal does not mean he was not a grass-roots terrorist operative. Indeed … most grass-roots operatives tend to be more like stray mutts than lone wolves.”

Security analyst Neil Fergus said in the Sydney Morning Herald that classifying the attack as terrorism “would only be feeding the propaganda machine” of Islamic State and other terrorist groups

They want and need, more than anything, to terrorise.  And to do that they need people to know what they’ve done.  Every act of terrorism adds to the pressure normal people feel that they are in real danger.

And this is why, somewhat incongruously to most, we have clear acts of terrorism such as the one in Australia written off as some guy who is a few nuts short of a muesli bar.  These are attempts to deny the terrorists their “win”.


– Robyn Dixon, MCT

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.