Grand Mufti of Australia, Ibrahim Abu Mohamed
by Mary W Maxwell
On August 15 and 16, 2016, I took 91 pages of notes at the Inquest. Let me share some miscellaneous items that Gumshoe has not already published.
Monis’ solicitor, Michael Klooster happened to be in the Lindt Café before the siege, having coffee, and spoke to Monis. Mr Klooster later called the Hotline (twice) to offer to negotiate with Monis. This offer was not taken up by the police. Other Muslim people called in and said the Grand Mufti would negotiate. This, too, was ignored.
By 5.30pm, on December 15, 2015 (the day of the siege which began around 9.30am), the police had checked all 17 sites of which there had been suggestion of a bomb. Negative. In other words, they knew Monis was faking, as far as external bombs were concerned. Isn’t that interesting?
Government Offices Concerned with Terrorism
The term “Pioneer Protocols” came up during Cath Burn’s testimony. I had not realized that NSW has a protocol for handling any terrorist event. A visit to the government website tells us:
“The Anti Terrorism & Security Group has responsibilities in countering and responding to terrorism through investigative and intelligence operations…. The Terrorism Intelligence Unit provides strategic and tactical intelligence support to the Command which includes risk and threat assessment. The Terrorism Investigations Squad works in partnership with the AFP, ASIO, and the NSW Crime Commission to investigate all threats (or acts) of terrorism impacting on NSW.”
I did not hear anything about that at the hearings, and never heard the word “ASIO.” I did hear that the police considered asking for help from the Queensland PSG and also the AFP.
One of the lawyers on August 16th asked what I thought was a pertinent question about the defence forces, but an objection was raised and the Coroner gave in to the objector. In regard to most other objections he overruled (by saying “I allow the question”).
And yes, Deputy Commissioner of NSW Police Catherine Burn did say that Holsworthy Army Base was doing a mock-up of the Café, and from the way she expressed it, it sounded like she meant they built it after the siege began. (She apparently did not read Mal Hughes’ article.)
Before the siege ended, Scipione wrote to Acting DC Jeff Loy, suggesting that they take down a video on Youtube in which one of the hostages puts forth Monis’ demands. (I think they said it was Julie Taylor in the video).
That was made a lot of at the hearing as indicating that Scipione was interfering with operations. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
As I show below (only worth reading if you doubt my thesis that the Upper Levels are officially not supposed to control men in the field), the emphasis was on getting the Upper Level (Loy and Burn) to admit involvement!
The following abbreviations were used liberally:
POC – Police Operations Center
DA – Direct Action plan (unlike an EA emergency action)
C and N – the Contain and Negotiate strategy (I would call it, the Contain and Don’t Negotiate strategy, as that is certainly the C and N that was used)
POI – person of interest. (I think this was used by the Dawson barrister, Phillip Boulten, SC, to describe Monis, but others used the terms perpetrator, offender, hostage taker.)
PFC – Police Forward Command
DC – Deputy Commissioner
SCC – State Crisis Committee
The SCC is where DC Cath Burn does much of her job. She is a conduit between the police and NSW political leaders. But she said she has two roles; she is the Police’s media spokesperson. Note: the Court was asked not to reveal the location of the SCC.
During the siege, Burn went on TV every few hours to update the public — with a load of pap, actually, like “We have extremely skilled negotiators.” (Makes you wonder what unskilled ones would have behaved like, doesn’t it?)
At 10pm, she was ordered to go home and come back at 5.30am next day to do the 6am media briefing. The mainstream media are implying she went home in the sense of abandoning her duty. They have jumped on Burn in every way – surely this is part of a coordinated plan.
Gumshoe at the Inquest
Now for some direct quotes. Where I’m unsure of a word I’ll underline it. No other changes will be made except for massive abridgement. I’ve kept it in sequence.
Note: the name Jenkins refers to Assistant Commissioner Mark Jenkins who, according to reports in the news in 2015, was the commander at the siege.
Mark Jenkins, NSW Police
Acting DC Jeff Loy: I got a very short call, a hot briefing, that Monis had shot deliberately overhead. [That was at 2.06am, I think, after 6 hostages escaped.]
Counsel Assisting the Inquest, Jeremy Gormly, SC: At 2.10am Jenkins did not discuss DA or EA at all?
Loy: I got a text from Burn soon after the EA at 2.21am. We understood a hostage was dead and others injured.
Gormly: Did you know Monis was frustrated about his message not getting out?
Gormly: You’ve known Jenkins a long time?
Loy: Ten or fifteen years….
G: If you thought things were not proceeding, could you say “have you considered “X”?…
L: No, because the briefs he gave me were of very specific aspects.
G: It didn’t occur to you that it was necessary to pose alternatives? …
L: I accept that, yes.
G: You think he was content or happy with C and N? …
L: I don’t recall the specifics of the C and N conversation.
G: You, Burn, and Murdoch were of one mind. [Murdoch is an Assistant Commissioner. I think he had handed over to Jenkins at 10pm.]
Dr Ian Freckelton, QC, lawyer for police: Your Honor, I object. This does not fall within the five areas that you have permitted for today’s questioning….
G: Did Murdoch or Jenkins say anything to you about Mr Monis being chauffeured?
G: Was there discussion about the possibility of community engagement?… Monis had met his barrister in the café… Around 3pm did you discuss engaging a third party?
L: I passed it on to the Executive…. It’s very rarely used in negotiations. Mr Klooster contacted me again later in the morning and said “The offer still stands.”
G: You never heard back from Murdoch or Jenkins?
L: That’s correct.
G: There s a counter-terrorism meeting at 3.37pm. Were you involved in that? By 3.30pm the POC were aware of bail in regard to sexual assaults. Did you know hat Jenkins had a draft copy of a DA?
L: No, I did not.
G: Did anyone say anything to you about the ADF to be engaged in the developing or executing of a DA?
L: No one mentioned it to me.
G: Did you talk about that at all? …
L: The federal police would have been canvassed.
G: Do you have an evaluation of how it ought to have been?
Freckelton: I object. This is a slippery slope….
G: In your discussion with Jenkins of the DA, the IED was the complicating factor….
Coroner: I allow….
G: A politically motivated terrorist apparently with a bomb holding people captive… Was there any discussion of bringing people from Holsworthy? Was it discussed?
L: Not in my presence, no. [Note: Loy gives all his answers laconically.]
G: I am reading your notes from a telecom with Jenkins at 12.29am. “I was at SCC not POC.” Jenkins said the media will be told they no longer have to withhold Monis’ name…. There has been little progress with the flag….
L: A DA has to be created, approved, and authorized.
G: Were you told at 12.30am about a DA?
L: It’s a matter for the POC.
G: Did you have an opinion that Jenkins should allow the DA?
Freckelton: I object. He just said it’s not his call.
G: I’ll move on…. You said the shot went into the ceiling or the roof – who told you that?
L: Mr Jenkins. He’s the only person I had called.
G: Did you think ‘A shot fired is a serious escalation”? … Did you think to go in and rescue?…
Freckelton: I object. It’s not the role of Mr Jenkins or this witness?
Coroner: I allow.
Did you think the police could put their mind to an EA? [Did you want to say] “It’s time. Shit! Aren’t you going to do something?” …
L: We did a bomb blast estimate. We will go in if he starts shooting….
[Interruption. At some point, I think it was here, Mr Gormly finished the Examination in Chief and put it to the families’ lawyers for cross-examination. The first was Mr Philip Boulten, QC, for the Dawson family and then Ms Gabrielle Bashir, SC for the Johnsons. Because I am not quite sure who was speaking I will say “Bar” to cover both Boulten and Bashir. With my apologies.]
Bar: Did you hear “Hold on the L-rad? Do you know who signed it?
L: No, I don’t.
Bar: There was no sniper coordinator at the FPC.
Freckelton: I object…. Loy was advised because he took over from Burn…
Coroner: I allow.
Bar: At 7.30 you knew there was a deficit of visuals of both the inside and outside of the café?
Bar: You knew of the delay in the Listening Device?
Bar: Were you told that the tactical command prefers to go in on a purposeful DA?…
L: As at 10.30pm I knew of the reactive EA… I was aware that there was a welfare issue of the hostages’ families….
Bar: So no brief about a DA in place? Had you heard “the death or serious injury” as a trigger?
L: That is common.
Bar: The Youtube by hostage Marcia Mikhail was in the news. It said “The police are doing nothing.” An e-mail from Scipione to you and Jenkins said “Let’s move to have it pulled.” Jenkins replies 7 minutes later “Onto it.” Is this the only regulation you received from Scipione all throughout the siege?
Bar: At 2am you saw footage of escape. You knew escape meant escalation. Did you think “There is a loss of control in the stronghold?”
L: That would be a fair assessment.
I told you this police witness was laconic. This is the end of my notes of Loy’s testimony. Above I noted the Mufti and Klooster offered to help. Why do you think they were not allowed to help calm Mr Monis down? Hmm.
By the way, when googling to find the spelling of Klooster, I asked for “offered to help negotiate with Monis.” I got a 2015 report that none other than Mahmoud Habib – of Guantanamo fame — had also offered to help. There is a lot of historical material here, dated two weeks after the siege.
— Mary W Maxwell reminds you that hitting the “Siege” button at top of GumshoeNews.com will bring up all parts of this series
Photo credits: The Grand Mufti – The Daily Telegraph Jenkins. Photo: Daniel Munoz