ON TARGET: Link between ISIS and Sydney siege exaggerated

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Last week, there were all sorts of shocking new reports about ISIS-related terrorism events from around the world. Perhaps the most shocking of all was the dramatic 16-hour hostage-taking in downtown Sydney, Australia. When a single gunman seized 17 hostages and barricaded himself inside a Lindt café, the incident immediately became the top news story, covered live on all major international media networks. Early on in the police standoff, hostage-taker Man Haron Monis had yet to fire a shot, let alone kill anyone, but what made his actions a magnet for global news coverage was the fact that he had hostages display a black flag with white Arabic lettering in the café window.

The flag appeared similar to those waved about by ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria during their beheading videos. Thus, we apparently had an ISIS attack in progress with no shortage of camera angles to choose from. Very quickly, Middle East experts pointed out that the writing on the flag was not an ISIS symbol, but rather, a standard Islamic phrase stating “There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God.” It was then that Monis used his hostages to deliver the message that he was conducting “an attack by the Islamic State on Australia.” To solidify his links to ISIS, Monis made it one of his demands that the Australian authorities bring him an actual ISIS flag. The fact that Monis did not possess a real ISIS flag should have set off a few alarm bells, and why he thought that the Australian police services would have better luck obtaining one is a mystery.

However, what clearly struck a sour chord was when Monis’ identity was confirmed early on during the siege. There were all sorts of stock videos of this nutter from his previous run-ins with authority. In 2007, he sent a string of hateful letters to the families of Australian soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, which led to him being charged with using a postal service to cause menace. In 2013, he was charged with being an accessory to the murder of his former wife, who, seven months earlier, was found stabbed and burned in a stairwell. His current wife is still on bail for first-degree murder charges in the attack. At the time of his death, Monis was also facing some 50 sexual assault charges. More importantly, however, he was an Iranian-born Shiite Muslim.

For those who closely monitor such issues, it will be readily apparent that ISIS are Sunni Muslim extremists who have been battling Shiite militia in both Syria and Iraq. Therefore, it makes no sense that Monis would actually be an ISIS supporter, let alone a member. Monis’ former lawyer, Manny Conditsis, has been quoted by media saying that the attack was “not a concerted terrorism event or act...it was a damaged-goods individual who did something outrageous.” Unfortunately, the simple specter of ISIS has now become so frightening to Western nations that one nut job with a shotgun waving the wrong flag (and asking for a real one) constitutes a ‘state of siege’ by virtue of the media hype.

Another bizarre example of the ISIS mythology of terrorism appeared last Friday in the Indian media. According to the International Business Times, ISIS now have a new deadly weapon to instill fear in the hearts and minds of Iraqi civilians. Somehow, ISIS scientists have developed what is described as the ‘Scorpion Bomb.’ Now, this is not some sort of corporate nickname for an explosive device, but rather a new projectile that actually contains live scorpions. The source of the scorpion weapon allegations, British Military expert Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, came after his recent return from a fact-finding trip to the region. It is Gordon’s opinion that the scorpion-laden canisters, fired into densely populated communities, are intended to create a ‘psychological impact’ on victims.

I presume this new scorpion bombing campaign is intended to frighten those who were immune to the mere threat of hooded ISIS fighters threatening to behead them? If that didn’t scare them off, then the threat of hundreds of poisonous scorpions dropping from the sky will be sure to chase them away. Not explained by Gordon was exactly how ISIS scientists are intending on rounding up all these scorpions, and better still, how these predatory arthropods will survive the blast when the canisters blow apart?

I suppose these trifling details matter naught when the objective is to create an ISIS boogey man worthy of frightening the entire world.