Lindt siege was a terror incident: coroner

Man Haron Monis carried out an act of terror when he held 18 people hostage in Sydney’s Lindt Cafe, NSW Coroner Michael Barnes has found.

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“The siege was a terrorist incident,” the coroner said on Wednesday as he handed down his inquests into the fatal events of December 2014.

The conclusion on whether the 17-hour siege was a terror attack or not was important to assessing the actions of the agencies involved.

Experts on terrorism, radicalisation and Islamic State gave evidence at the inquest into the siege that resulted in the deaths of Monis, cafe manager Tori Johnson and Sydney barrister Katrina Dawson.

Monis had walked into the Lindt Cafe in Sydney’s Martin Place on the morning of Monday December 15 with an ageing sawn-off shotgun and an Islamic flag and took 18 people hostage.

It ended when Monis was shot by specialist police who stormed the cafe after Mr Johnson was killed.

Ms Dawson was fatally wounded after being hit by police bullet fragments.

Mr Barnes looked at the command system operated during the police response.

“Generally, it worked well,” he added.

The NSW Police Tactical Operations Unit was called out and a forward command post established.

“The transition from a system for dealing with a routine high-risk situation to that of a terrorist incident also proceeded swiftly and in accordance with relevant policies,” Mr Barnes said.

“There is a clear dividing line between senior executive officers of the police force and operational incident commanders responsible for decisions about the management of a terrorist incident.”

The primary police strategy was to contain and negotiate.

“That was adopted during the Lindt cafe siege. Sadly, it failed.”

Mr Barnes’ report examined how that strategy was applied.

“Contain and negotiate was the appropriate initial response to the siege. It continued to be so even after the siege was assessed to be a terrorist event” he said.

“How long it remained at the appropriate primary response depended upon a rigorous evaluation of its effectiveness. There was no evidence of an adequate examination was made.”

He recommended the NSW Police Force review the training and accreditation of negotiators and consider drawing on international experience.

But Mr Barnes “readily accepted” the view of an international expert who told the inquest the siege “would have challenged any police force in the world”.

For the NSW police force, “the challenge was greatly increased the fact that this was the first terrorism-related siege in Australia”.

“Training and exercising cannot completely equip any organisation to respond to a novel threat.”

Kohli wants relaxed India at Champs Trophy

India’s best chance of defending the Champions Trophy title next month will be if they do not burden themselves with that prospect, skipper Virat Kohli said on Wednesday.

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Kohli was part of the Indian team that defeated hosts England in the 2013 final at Edgbaston, and he said he recalled no creased foreheads in that victorious dressing room.

The same carefree attitude has been the hallmark of the Indian team that are currently the No.1 Test side, and Kohli saw no reason why it would not work in the one-day format.

“I think the first challenge is not to think that we are defending the title,” the 28-year-old told reporters.

“When we went there last time, we just wanted to enjoy ourselves as a young unit and we ended up winning the tournament and creating a team which has done so well so far.

“Right now, the mindset is very similar – to go out there and enjoy our cricket, which we’ve done in the past couple of years.”

Kohli demanded from his team the kind of “ruthlessness” evident when they won 10 of 13 Tests on home soil last season.

India’s batting mainstay also reminded his team that there would be little margin for error in the June 1-18 tournament featuring the top eight one-day sides.

“Because the tournament is much shorter (than World Cup) and you got top eight teams in the world, the competitiveness of the tournament is much higher, right from the word go,” he said.

“In Champions Trophy, you need to be on top of your game from game one.

“If not, your chances go down pretty soon.

“I think that’s the biggest challenge in Champions Trophy.”

Troops deploy as Britain goes on top terror alert

Britain deployed soldiers to key sites Wednesday and raised its terror alert to the maximum after the Manchester suicide bombing by a local man of Libyan origin who may have been radicalised in Syria.

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Security services believe the suspected bomber, Salman Abedi, was likely to have had help from others in staging the attack that killed 22 people including a girl aged just eight.

Interior minister Amber Rudd said the 22-year-old had been on the radar of the intelligence community before the massacre late Monday at a concert by US pop star Ariana Grande.

Investigators were trying to piece together the last movements of Abedi, a Manchester-born man of Libyan descent whose parents had reportedly fled the now fallen regime of Moamer Kadhafi.

After arresting a 23-year-old man on Tuesday, police said they had taken three more men into custody on Wednesday in south Manchester, where Abedi lived.

Abedi was reported to be a former business student who dropped out of university and turned to radical Islam.

French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said the bomber had “likely” been to Syria, citing information provided by British intelligence services to their counterparts in Paris.

Collomb told French television the suspect “grew up in Britain and then suddenly, after a trip to Libya and then likely to Syria, became radicalised and decided to carry out this attack”.

“In any case, the links with Daesh are proven,” he said, using a term for the Islamic State group, which claimed responsibility for the attack on Tuesday.

British police and intelligence agencies have arrested three more suspects in connection with the Manchester suicide bombing.

Three more men arrested over bombing in Manchester

 

They said three men were arrested on Wednesday in south Manchester, where a day earlier a 22-year-old man was also arrested and a number of homes were searched following a suicide bombing at a pop concert in Manchester.

 

Security services believe the suspected bomber, Salman Abedi, was likely to have had help from others in staging the massacre that killed 22 people including one girl aged just eight.

More raids – and three more arrests – in #Manchester @SBSNews pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/Yv9gWbRHD8

— Brett Mason (@BrettMasonNews) May 24, 2017

Interior minister Amber Rudd said the 22-year-old had been on the radar of the intelligence community before the attack late Monday at a concert by US pop star Ariana Grande.

She said he had been known to security forces “up to a point”.

Security services were trying to piece together the last movements of Abedi, a Briton of Libyan descent, amid media reports he had travelled recently to Libya and possibly Syria.

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Rudd declined to give any further information about Abedi but told BBC radio: “It was a devastating occasion, it was more sophisticated than some of the attacks we’ve seen before, and it seems likely – possible – that he wasn’t doing this on his own.”

The minister said she was “not surprised at all” that the attack had been claimed by the Islamic State group, but said there was no information yet to confirm the extremist organisation’s active direction.

Britain ordered soldiers to key sites on Wednesday after going on maximum alert for fear of an imminent new terror strike.

May raises UK threat level to ‘critical’ 0:00 Share

Prime Minister Theresa May placed the country on its highest level of terror alert – “critical” – for the first time since June 2007, following an attack on Glasgow Airport.

The last time troops were deployed on British streets was after an airliner plot in 2007.

Troops will fan out at sites such as Buckingham Palace, Westminster and foreign embassies in London to free up armed police for anti-terror duties.

May said a new attack “may be imminent” but the authorities stressed that the soldiers would remain under police command.

“This is a temporary arrangement in order to respond to an exceptional event,” Rudd said.

Related reading’Sing with the angels’

The attack was the deadliest in Britain since July 7, 2005 when four suicide bombers inspired by Al-Qaeda attacked London’s transport system during rush hour, killing 52 people.

A Polish couple living in Britain were confirmed among the Manchester victims, along with 15-year-old Olivia Campbell, whose mother had issued heartrending appeals for help when her daughter was still listed as missing.

Next to a photograph of Olivia, Charlotte Campbell wrote on Facebook: “RIP my darling precious gorgeous girl Olivia Campbell taken far far to soon go sing with the angels and keep smiling mummy loves you so much.”

A total of 59 people were taken to hospital, many with life-threatening conditions. Twelve of them were aged under 16.

British media said Abedi was born in Manchester and that his Libyan parents had fled the regime of dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

Police on Tuesday staged an armed raid on a Manchester address believed to be where Abedi lived, carrying out a controlled explosion to gain entry after arresting a 23-year-old man as part of the investigation.

Messages of hope at vigil

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Abedi was reported to be a former business student who dropped out of university and turned to radical Islam.

Britain’s best-selling newspaper The Sun carried pictures Wednesday of eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos, who was killed in the attack, and of Abedi under the words “PURE” and “EVIL” respectively.

Monday’s attack came just over two weeks before Britain votes in a general election and campaigning remained suspended by all the main political parties.

Related readingBlack armbands

The plan for the troop deployment, which has never before been used and is codenamed Operation Temperer, was first revealed after the November 2015 Paris terror attacks and is believed to allow up to 5,000 troops to be deployed.

France has already grown used to the sight of rifle-toting soldiers on the streets of its major cities under a state of emergency imposed after the attacks on the Bataclan concert hall and elsewhere in Paris.

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British police had already announced extra security measures for upcoming sporting fixtures including Saturday’s FA Cup football final.

Manchester was the latest in a series of deadly incidents across Europe claimed by IS jihadists that have coincided with an offensive on the group’s redoubts in Syria and Iraq carried out by US, British and other Western forces.

@SBSNews The two prior critical UK terror threat levels (2006 and 2007) remained in place for less than a week @SBSNews pic.twitter长沙桑拿按摩论坛,/lBTGCR0WwN

— Brett Mason (@BrettMasonNews) May 23, 2017

In a city famed globally for its football teams and pop bands like Oasis, The Stone Roses, The Smiths and Take That, showbusiness stars and teams have joined political leaders worldwide in expressing their horror at the carnage.

“Words don’t really do justice for how we all feel. We’re numb,” Manchester United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said, ahead of Wednesday evening’s Europa League final against Amsterdam giants Ajax.

The players will wear black armbands for the game in Stockholm and a minute’s silence will be held.

In the city centre Tuesday evening, thousands gathered for a multi-faith vigil outside the town hall to remember the victims, with defiant chants of “Manchester! Manchester!” ringing around.

Witnesses describe Manchester attack

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Research breakthrough in women’s disease

Researchers are one step closer to identifying genes linked to a gynaecological disease affecting one in 10 Australian women.

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A global study into the genetic causes of endometriosis has identified a wider array of genetic links to the disease than what was previously known.

The team of researchers, co-led by University of Queensland Professor Grant Montgomery and QUT Associate Professor Dale Nyholt, confirmed nine previously identified genomic regions – sections of DNA that contain our unique genetic code – and discovered an additional five.

The findings will pave the way for better diagnostics and treatments in future.

“We found regions of the genome where there is an increased risk of endometriosis, and that is the first step to finding what genes are affected and how they increase risk,” Prof Montgomery said.

DNA samples taken from 17,045 women living with endometriosis were collected by Australian and overseas researchers and compared to 191,858 samples from women without the disease.

“We don’t understand what the causes of endometriosis are, but if we can find the specific genes affected, then we will be able to understand the biology and the cause,” Prof Montgomery said.

“The next step is to actually work out the genes that are involved.”

Ten per cent of Australian women live with endometriosis, a condition where cells similar to those found in the lining of the uterus grow outside of it, most commonly in the pelvis.

In some cases, the tissue is also found around the heart, lungs, kidneys or other organs.

Symptoms can include severe pain, difficult menstrual cycles, painful sex and infertility.

Endometriosis costs Australian society $7.7 billion a year, with two-thirds of that attributed to lost productivity and the remaining $2.5 billion to direct healthcare fees, a 2014 University of Sydney report found.

Queensland Endometriosis Association president Jessica Taylor said she often heard stories from women who, like her, were incorrectly diagnosed with other medical conditions before their endometriosis was detected.

“On average it takes seven to 10 years for a diagnosis and … if there were measures in place to pick up the disease earlier people wouldn’t go through the horrors that so many do,” the 24-year-old said.

“If you can catch it early, that would change someone’s life. “

Al-Qaeda ‘learning social media from IS’

Al-Qaeda is learning from the way Islamic State is using the internet to radicalise young people and it has Australian authorities concerned.

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The federal government is making social media a key focus in its bid to counter violent extremism and the narrative being pushed by terrorists.

The Attorney-General’s Department sees it as a “significant and enduring issue”, deputy secretary Katherine Jones told a Senate estimates hearing.

But it was not strictly associated with IS – also known as ISIL.

“We see other groups such as al-Qaeda learning from ISIL in terms of much more sophisticated use of social media,” she said on Wednesday night.

“Notwithstanding that ISIL itself may be experiencing some diminishing in its territorial control in Iraq and Syria, we consider the ongoing risks associated with that extremist material to be quite significant.”

Almost $12 million has been allocated towards countering violent extremism in 2016/17, boosted by a one-off funding injection.

Part of that money is being spent on helping NSW set up a support line for families to reach out if they have concerns about their children.

Ms Jones hopes it will be launched in the near future.

“It’s a really important initiative in order to have an alternative mechanism for families or friends of people who are radicalising … so people don’t have to go to law enforcement,” she said.

Attorney-General George Brandis told the hearing countering violent extremism is a relatively new area and the way programs are delivered has evolved across time and agencies.

Intervention programs have now been rolled out in all states and territories, with different techniques being used to help deradicalise young people or those at risk of being radicalised.

Ms Jones said the department was working on a national framework to assess the success of the programs, with evidence only anecdotal at this stage.

“The feedback we’re getting is that people are engaging with programs.”