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Sydney siege gunman 'a complex and secretive man' -

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MARK COLVIN: An inquest into December's fatal siege in Sydney's Lindt cafe has revealed the multiple personas of the gunman Man Haron Monis.

The Iranian born extremist portrayed himself as a senior cleric, a former spy and a sexual healer, but he was living a series of lies.

The inquest heard he was, "prone to grandiose claims".

Brendan Trembath was there today and prepared this report.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Several years before the Sydney siege, the little known Man Haron Monis styled himself as a senior Islamic cleric concerned about his adopted country.

(Extract from protest video)

MAN HARON MONIS: We want peace, we don't war, we don't Australia to be unsafe.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: In this protest on the 10th of November 2009, on the steps of the Downing Centre courts he called on the then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to stop the killing in the Middle East.

Monis portrayed himself as a patriot.

MAN HARON MONIS: We love Australia. We love Australia.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Five years later he was one of the country's most wanted men, holding hostages in a cafe in the heart of Sydney.

The New South Wales Coroner Michael Barnes hopes to determine whether or not Monis was acting alone.

MICHAEL BARNES: Was Monis a so called "lone wolf" prosecuting an ISIS inspired terrorist act or was he a deranged individual pursing some personal private grievance in a public manner?

They are real questions we must try and answer if an explanation for the siege is to be forthcoming and strategies to avoid a repeat are to be developed.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Counsel Assisting the Coroner Jeremy Gormly SC says the siege gunman's story begins in western Iran in1964.

JEREMY GORMLY: Mr Monis was born Mohammed Manteghi and appears to have retained that name throughout his time in Iran. As will be referred to later, Mr Monis took an array of names whilst in Australia.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Mr Gormly painted a picture of a complex and secretive man, who claimed to have been well connected in Iran.

JEREMY GORMLY: Mr Monis made the unlikely claim that his own late father was an Ayatollah. He also stated that his father-in-law was a senior person in a university.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: The inquest also heard that Man Haron Monis claimed to have been a spy for the Iranian government, reporting on members of a minority sect.

JEREMY GORMLY: He we'll see, Mr Monis was prone to grandiose claims. But it seems that there may have been some kernel of truth in his background.

Mr Monis seems to have been a person who showed some early promise and may have both sought and been offered the type of contact with senior people of which he later boasted.

He says that eventually, he was… while still in Iran, he was summoned by the Iranian ministry of intelligence and security known as VAVAK or MOIS to account for his association with the Immadi. This commences Mr Monis’ long history of claimed engagement with security, spying and related agencies including the CIA, ASIO and VAVAK.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Monis maintained he then became disenchanted and began writing anti government poetry.

It appears that someone in Australia's immigration bureaucracy believed him. He was granted a protection visa on the 23rd of August, 2000.

The Sydney siege gunman was also a self trained healer. The inquest heard he was charged with sexually assaulting a woman during spiritual healing sessions.

At the time of the siege, he was facing a number of charges.

Junior Counsel Assisting the commission, Sophie Callan.

SOPHIE CALLAN: Charges were laid against Mr Monis on 43 counts of aggravated indecent and sexual assault allegedly committed from 2002 to 2010, all in the context of his clairvoyant business.

The facts and circumstances of the various charges indicate a pattern of conduct by him. He appears to have used a number of addresses for his business, but generally they were premises which involved privacy and a sofa bed.

MARK COLVIN: Sophie Callan, Junior Counsel Assisting the Sydney Siege inquest ending Brendan Trembath's report.