Iranian media links Australia siege to IS, blames West

Iranian media links Australia siege to IS, blames West
This April 18, 2011 file image shows Sheikh Man Haron Monis, the gunman inside the Lindt Cafe in Martin Place in Sydney, Australia

TEHRAN - Iran's media reacted Tuesday to the deadly hostage siege in Sydney by pointing the finger of blame at the West and linking the Iranian-born gunman to Islamic State group militants.

The story was given front-page treatment in several newspapers, but the coverage contained unsubstantiated opinions as well as reports about the incident in which a self-styled cleric and two hostages died.

"Daesh reached Australia," said Khorasan, a conservative daily, using the Arabic acronym for the IS group. The headline in Mardom Salari, a reformist title, read: "Daesh suspect killed by police."

Australian officials have said the gunman, Man Haron Monis, who had been in the country for almost two decades, "had a long history of violent crime, infatuation with extremism and mental instability".

However Monis's former lawyer said the hostage taking was not the work of an organised terrorist group such as IS, and officials gave no indication that the gunman had not acted alone.

Monis converted from Shiism, Iran's official religion, to Sunni Islam, according to a post on his website.

In its only official comment on the deadly siege, Iran's government on Monday strongly condemned the 50-year-old gunman's actions.

"Undertaking such inhuman acts and provoking fear and panic in the name of merciful Islam is not in any way justifiable," foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said.

However, Siasat-e-Rooz, a hardline conservative outlet, said Tuesday that "Australia's cooperation with the United States and Britain in warmongering had paved the way" for such an incident.

The newspaper also accused Iran's arch-foe Israel of involvement, raising "the probability of the Zionist role in this event".

"The Zionist record shows that when they are faced with a global trial, they create a security crisis," said its report.

Vatan-e-Emrooz, another hardline newspaper, said Western intelligence agencies were culpable, and linked the siege to the ongoing battles against IS in Iraq and Syria.

"One of the main gaffes of Australia's security service, which is under the influence of the CIA and MI6, was to provide the Daesh black flag for this terrorist, as he mistakenly had carried the Saudi Arabia flag and put it up in front of the cameras," the newspaper said.

Monis's personal website, before it was taken down on Tuesday, featured a banner photo with graphic images of dead Arab children and the caption: "This is an evidence for the terrorism of America and its allies including Australia. The result of their airstrikes."

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