A hostage runs towards a police officer outside Lindt cafe where other were being held in central Sydney on December 15, 2014.
Jason Reed /Courtesy Reuters

Since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Australia has enacted some of the harshest and most extensive antiterror laws in the world. The laws give sweeping powers to security and law enforcement agencies and have reportedly helped thwart several terror plots inspired by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Yet on December 14, Man Haron Monis, a self-proclaimed cleric from Iran whom Australia granted asylum in 1996, managed to take more than a dozen people hostage in a café in downtown Sydney. The siege ended less than 24 hours later when Australian commandos stormed the café; the standoff left Monis and two hostages dead.

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