It was inevitable that terror group Islamic State would try to seize on the Martin Place siege to bolster its claim it was striking fear into the hearts of Western capitals, defence and intelligence analysts say.
Sydney siege gunman Man Haron Monis features prominently in newly released Islamic State propaganda material that urges would-be terrorists to mimic his “daring raid” on the Lindt cafe in Martin Place.
In the foreword to the sixth edition of Dabiq, Islamic State’s official English-language magazine, the group says Monis’ actions “brought terror to the entire nation” and erased his history of “shirk and transgression”.
Former senior defence official Allan Behm told Fairfax on Tuesday that he was “not surprised that they have grabbed hold of this”.
“But it indicates to me that they will grab at any straw that might serve their cause … the only thing they can claim as a kind of ‘success’ are the actions of a deranged person, a convert from one form of Islam to another who might well have converted back again, a person who is clearly unstable … then I think it’s more a signal of desperation.”
Security expert Neil Fergus who heads advisory group Intelligent Risks said the attempt by IS to claim Monis as one of their own was “absolutely predictable”.
“What this group is doing is sending out messages to everybody, but they are resonating with the desperate, the deranged and delusional”.
“They can claim responsiblity for every act of grotesque violence that they like, but there is nothing to indicate that the individual who perpetrated the atrocities in Martin Place had any connection with [Islamic State].”
Islamic State uses its glossy online publication Dabiq as an important recruitment and propaganda tool.
“This month, an attack was carried out in Sydney by Man Haron Monis, a Muslim who resolved to join the mujāhidīn of the Islamic State in their war against the crusader coalition,” the foreword to the latest edition says.
“He did not do so by undertaking the journey to the lands of the Khilāfah and fighting side-by-side with his brothers but rather, by acting alone and striking the kuffār [non-believers] where it would hurt them most – in their own lands and on the very streets that they presumptively walk in safety.
“It didn’t take much; he got hold of a gun and stormed a cafe taking everyone inside hostage. Yet in doing so, he prompted mass panic, brought terror to the entire nation, and triggered an evacuation of parts of Sydney’s central business district.”
The magazine features a full-page colour photograph of Monis and contains quotes attributed to him on his conversion from Shia to Sunni Islam.
Past editions of Dabiq, which is named after a town in Syria, urged would-be jihadists to keep their plots small and their strategies simple, involving as few people as possible.
The latest edition of al-Qaeda-produced magazine Inspire, also released this week, claimed Monis took hostages in the Lindt cafe after his “peaceful protests” failed, and called on extremists to carry out attacks on US soil.
“After years of peaceful protest in Australia, a … Muslim takes dozens of hostages in a cafe for 16 hours,” it reads.
“Mr Abott [sic] you should have known by now that peace and security is a two-way equation.”
John Blaxland, a senior fellow at the Australian National University’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, said the fact Islamist terrorist groups had resorted to appealing to “unhinged” individuals to conduct lone-wolf attacks demonstrated they had been weakened since the September 11 and Bali bombing attacks.
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