As the terrifying hostage siege which shocked Sydney and the world is finally over, we’re learning more about what it was like for the innocent people held at gunpoint in a central Sydney Lindt cafe for nearly 17 hours by an Iranian-born suspect, Man Haron Monis.
Among the survivors is Marcia Mikhael, a 42-year-old bank employee whose Facebook account was hijacked by Monis to broadcast his demands. That post has since been scrubbed from social media just as the videos of several hostages dictating their captor’s demands to camera have been pulled from YouTube and were kept out of most news coverage so as not to jeopardize the police operation.
“Please help,” she wrote on her Facebook account.
“Dear friends and family,” she began.
“I’m at the Lindt Café at Martin Place being held hostage by a member of the ISI. The man who is keeping us hostage has asked for small and simple requests and none have been met.
“He is now threatening to start killing us. We need help right now. The man wants the world to know that Australia is under attack by the Islamic State.”
Her words would not have been believed but for the extraordinary images beamed live to television sets across the globe.
They amounted to an astonishing account of a siege that will forever live on in infamy.
“The member of the Islamic State who has taken us hostages says: ‘I have heard the news that politicians are not telling the truth to media about the motivation.’
Members of Mikhael’s family likewise asked her friends and members of the public not to share the Facebook post of others like it, as this is exactly what Monis wanted.
“Please do not share any statuses on (Facebook) from the hostages,” wrote niece Christine Mikhael.
“Please do not share or spread any messages released by the hostages as the terrorist is using them as a means of communication.
“This could put my aunty and the others in grave danger.”
Monis failed. And it seems not all Jihadists are united in support of Monis.
NSW Police were aware of the social media posts yesterday, but asked the media and the public not to share them as they tried to negotiate with the gunman.
Her family also called for people to include Ms Mikhael in your ‘prayers not your posts’.
The image of survival will become a defining moment in the minds of people all over the world who will for human triumph and denounce evil, who understand the power of innate goodness.
But nearby, two other hostages lay dead.
That, we can neither ever let ourselves forget.