More than a year before the Sydney hostage siege, Man Haron Monis was arrested for accessory to the murder of his ex-wife — who was repeatedly stabbed and set on fire — and then released on bail.
"They should have put him away and thrown away the key," said Ayyut Khalik, godfather to the slain woman, Noleen Hayson Pal.
Khalik said Pal, 31, was like one of his own children. He traveled from California to Australia for her 16th birthday, for her wedding to Monis in 2005 and for her funeral last year.
"The first time I met him, I didn't like him," Khalik said of the self-styled sheik. "You can tell by people's face."
He said Monis and Pal had two sons before their marriage fell apart. The Iranian-born cleric forced her to wear a hijab at all times and forbid her from contact with non-Muslims, Khalik said.
"We found out he was hitting her and stuff, and he was telling his kids white people are bad," he added.
Last year, Pal came to stay with Khalik's family in Hayward for a month before returning to Sydney. "I told her to be safe," Khalik said.
In April 2013, the young mother was stabbed multiple times, doused with lighter fluid and set afire in an apartment building stairwell.
Seven months later, police charged Monis' girlfriend, Amirah Droudis, with the murder, and he was charged as an accessory before and after the fact. Both were quickly released on bail.
"Who do you blame? The Australian government? The judicial system?" Khalik said.
He said that he heard about the Sydney hostage siege on Sunday night but had no ideal Monis was involved until he woke up Monday and found a Facebook message from a relative.
"It was like someone hit me with a sledgehammer," he said. "I just prayed for the hostages."