Australian Jewish institutions on high alert after hostage situation

After taking hostages inside the Lindt cafe in central Sydney, Australia, the gunman forced the hostages to display an Islamist flag. Credit: YouTube screenshot.

( Australian Jewish institutions tightened security in the wake of the hostage situation at the Lindt chocolate café in central Sydney. 

On Monday, Iranian jihadist Man Haron Monis entered the Sydney cafe and used a gun to take the employees and patrons inside as hostages. He then forced some of the hostages to display an Islamic jihadist flag on the window of the cafe.

Monis, a self-described sheikh, previously faced charges for sexual assault and was convicted of sending threatening letters to families of eight Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan. After several hours, at least six hostages managed to escape the cafe. By Tuesday (Australian time), 16 hours after the ordeal began, local security forces stormed the cafe and rescued the hostages. Two hostages and Monis were killed, and four hostages were injured.

A senior Jewish security official told Haaretz that “Jewish institutions across Australia are in lockdown, excursions have been canceled and tight security measures are in place.” Jewish children were held from school and activities, and at least one major Jewish institution in Sydney issued a “code red” emergency alert, sealing off the building and blocking all entries and exits for several hours. 

Israeli religious singer Benny Elbaz and his son Gad had visited the cafe Monday and left just minutes before the gunman entered, reported, a Chabad-Lubavitch news service.

“Several minutes before the kidnapping… all of our friends left after sitting there and hour and 15 minutes,” Elbaz wrote on Facebook. “After several moments, it happened! A miracle, a miracle, a miracle of Hanukkah. There are no other words.”

Posted on December 15, 2014 .