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Sydney Hostage Standoff

Tony Abbott on Sydney Siege: Sheikh Haron Wasn’t on Watch List

Australian Prime Minister Describes Gunman as 'Deeply Disturbed' 0:56

LONDON — Australia's prime minister acknowledged that the self-styled sheikh behind Sydney's hostage crisis was not on a terror watch list, saying Tuesday the incident has raised questions over how a "deluded" individual "infatuated with extremism" could have been allowed to roam the streets. Man Haron Monis, also was known as Sheikh Haron, was killed when police stormed the chocolate shop where he had unfurled a flag popular with extremists and held more than a dozen hostages in a 16-hour siege. Two hostages also died.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the "absolutely appalling and and ugly incident" has been "testing, taxing and troubling" for the people of Sydney, and has echoed around the world. He said Haron had "a long history of violent crime, infatuation with extremism and mental instability."

That's why, he said, questions are being asked through government over how "someone who has had such a long and jagged history" would "not be on the appropriate watch list" — and if the incident could have been prevented. "These are questions we need to look at carefully, calmly and methodically to learn the right lessons and act on them," he said. "We are always looking at what can be done better."

Still, he expressed confidence that Australia's intelligence and security services have been "responding effectively" to the threat of extremism. Even if this "sick and disturbed individual" had been on a watch list or monitored 24-hours a day, Abbott said, its "quite likely" a similar incident could have taken place. "We do face a very real threat from people who want to do us harm and who invoke this death cult ideology as a justification," Abbott said, using the term he often has used to describe ISIS.

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— Cassandra Vinograd