Monday, December 15, 2014
The Lindt Cafe in Sydney's Martin Place downtown is normally by all reports a pleasant, friendly place to grab a snack to go with your morning coffee.
Today it's a chamber of horrors.
At 9:45 AM today an armed Muslim terrorist man wearing a headband covered in Arabic walked into the cafe took out a shotgun from a blue bag and took the entire staff and the customers hostage. He also reportedly has an explosive device which he set up later.
Unfortunately, Australians have essentially been disarmed legally, so no one was able to stop him.
There's no telling how many hostages there are, but the estimates range between 13 and as many as 30. Most of them appear to have been ordered to press up against the windows so the impede police snipers. Some of the terrified female hostages have been ordered to hold up an Islamic banner.
Contrary to earlier reports, this is not an Islamic State flag, but a common Muslim jihad banner engraved with the shehada, the Islamic principles of faith.It's frequently used by Jahbat al-Nusrah and other Islamist and salafi groups,.
The gunman and some of the hostages have been in touch with local media. They haven't released too many details for obvious reasons, but the gunman has reportedly requested an Islamic State flag and a conversation with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to be broadcast live over the radio..in other words, maximum publicity. That doesn't bode well.
The gunman also claimed he had 'two bombs inside the cafe' and that there are two elsewhere in the city.
Worth noting, by the way... Sydney's Muslims went public quickly condemning this barbarity utterly in a joint statement signed by over 50 groups. And a number of interfaith prayer vigils are being held in mosques, synagogues and churches throughout Australia.
It's possible this atrocity was a jihadi operation related to the one foiled in September that was to be part of a fairly intensive terrorist strike throughout Sydney. Among other things, it involved setting off several car bombs, including one near the Israeli embassy according to one of my sources.Also reportedly targeted was Sydney's world famous Opera House.
Omarjan Azari, a 22-year-old Sydney man arrested in a large anti-terrorism raid in September, was allegedly planning the attacks, which included the kidnapping of a random Australian, and a filmed beheading to be aired on social media as propaganda for the Islamic State cause.
According to the charges filed, the attacks were mentioned in a conversation between an Australian terrorism recruiter in Syria, Mohammad Ali Barylei and Azari.
About six hours into the siege, some of the hostages, 3 men and two women managed to escape.
The Australian police now have the cafe surrounded and the entire area, a very busy part of downtown Sydney has been evacuated.
It's evening right now in Sydney, and reportedly there are no lights on in the cafe.So far, as far as we know none of the hostages have been hurt. We can only pray at this point that it stays that way, and that this evil is defeated. Needless to say, Australia has already received an offer of any help they require from a very good friend with a great deal of experience and expertise in these matters.