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Suspect in Sydney standoff known to police

CBS News has learned that the gunman behind the Sydney hostage situation has been arrested before for extremist activity
CBS News has learned that the gunman behind t... 02:45

SYDNEY -- A gunman who took a number of people hostage inside a Sydney chocolate cafe at the height of Monday morning rush hour is believed to be a self-styled Muslim cleric out on bail on a string of violent charges.

A flurry of loud bangs erupted as heavily arm... 03:49

The gunman is Iranian-born Man Haron Monis. A police official said "you wouldn't be wrong" in identifying the 50-year-old Monis as the gunman. Under department rules, officials do not identify themselves unless speaking at a formal news conference.

Sources confirmed to CBS News that the alleged gunman died after a swarm of heavily armed police stormed the cafe early Tuesday and ended the 16-hour siege.

U.S. officials have confirmed to CBS News that Monis is known to Australian authorities, and by extension is known to U.S. authorities. It was not immediately clear whether his name is on U.S. terrorism databases. A U.S. intelligence source confirmed to CBS News that Monis has been arrested previously for extremist activity in Australia.

Monis has a history of espousing extremist views in his adopted nation and was known, according to the Reuters news agency, for sending hate messages to the families of Australian troops killed in battle.

According to Australian media Monis has been accused of dozens of sexual assaults, mostly while working as a spiritual healer in the country. Reports also suggested Monis was currently on bail on charges of being complicit in the murder of his own ex-wife.

He is believed to have converted from Shiite Islam to Sunni Islam after moving to Australia.

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