The Islamic State (ISIS) has, for the first time, praised the Sydney siege that took place earlier this month and encouraged others to follow the gunman's lead and launch further attacks on Western countries.
The latest comments from the dreaded Islamist militants based in Iraq and Syria came in the form of an article in their monthly English-language magazine, Dabiq, in which the group said the deaths of two hostages at the hands of the Islamist was a "blessing" and that they were carried out for a "noble cause".
Man Haron Monis – an Iranian who was earlier charged with the murder of his wife – stormed Lindt café in downtown Sydney earlier this month and held more than 20 people hostage for hours. The siege ended in the death of barrister Katrina Dawson, 38, and café manager Tori Johnson, 34.
Monis had presented a list of demands to the Australian officials during his 17-hour hostage-taking, including that an Islamic State flag be given to him.
In its latest magazine issue released on Monday, ISIS said Monis' name had been added "to the list of Muslims who answered the Khalifah's call to strike those waging war against the Islamic State wherever they may be."
The magazine also praised how the gunman managed to get hold of a gun "with ease" and attacked the "kuffar (non-believers) where it would hurt them most – in their own lands and on the very streets that they presumptively walk in safety".
Monis, 50, who died in the battle with police following the siege, was a self-styled cleric with a long criminal history. He had previously practised Shia sect, although he had recently converted to Sunni Islam.
The ISIS magazine also praised Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a Muslim convert who shot dead a service man in Canada's national War memorial, while also appreciating efforts made by Bertrand Nzohabonayo, who was reported to have stabbed and wounded three police officials in France earlier.