Australian police locked down the center of the country's biggest city on Monday after an armed man walked into a busy downtown Sydney cafe, took hostages and forced them to display an Islamic flag, igniting fears of a jihadist attack.
Police said they knew of one armed assailant involved in the incident at the Lindt chocolate cafe in the heart of Sydney's financial district, but there could be more.
Unless this is all a deep crime, like Die Hard, with political motivation as a mere cover story.
UPDATE: News reports say that the possible terrorist is an Iranian cleric. I assumed or thought I heard that the flag flying was the black flag of Sunni Arab jihadis, but perhaps I'm mistaken.
But if so, isn't it a wonderful example of ecumenical outreach by a Shia Persian to Sunni Arabs?
News also says that the police don't assume this is terrorism.
UPDATE: Australians just stormed the building, so check your news.
UPDATE: The hostage situation is over. No word about the "self-styled sheikh"--not a mullah--whose criminal background may be an example of jihad being the last refuge of a scoundrel.
UPDATE: Streaming news from Australian television. One hostage appears to be dead as well as the terrorist/hostage-taker.
They hate everybody. Stop worrying about why they hate us.
UPDATE: Oh my God. My title was prescient:
Australians have used social media to show their support for Muslims after an Iranian gunman seized a Sydney café, fanning fears of an potential anti-Islam backlash.
The hashtag #IllRideWithYou took off Monday local time in Australia and quickly trended worldwide, generating 40,000 tweets in just two hours and more than 170,000 overall.
Obviously, all Moslems are not guilty for the acts of some (thank goodness that Sydney guy wasn't in a college fraternity, however, eh? #IllPledgeWithYou?).
Yet a nutball Moslem strikes Sydney and the first impulse of some in Australia is to worry about the dread "backlash."
UPDATE: Late news that the whole "I'll ride with you" incident was made up--slacktivism (existing in the virtual world only) at it's best.
An imaginary "Islamophobic" backlash was met with an imaginary act of liberal outreach.