Lindt cafe hostages 'sitting on powderkeg', says Ware
A WAR correspondent who has been held hostage himself says he holds real fears Sydney's hostage situation could end in the worst possible way.
Michael Ware, who has worked in Baghdad, and has been threatened, held hostage and narrowly avoided bombs and tanks, said the situation unfolding in Sydney's Martin Place could not be more serious.
There are now reports of up to 50 people being held hostage and that the gunman has told of 'four devices' being placed around Sydney.
"They are literally being held sitting on a powderkeg,'' Mr Ware said of the hostages being held at the Lindt Chocolate Café.
There has been widespread speculation on social media that Lindt Chocolate has been targeted because it is not Halal-certified. The firm's name is one of many on a site detailing companies that are not Halal certified.
Mr Ware said the hostages would be "doing nothing but, like all of us, holding out hope that this thing could resolve itself.
"What I am afraid that it appears we are dealing with here is the global holy war has come to Australia to the heart of Sydney.
"The wars on terror have now become a part of Martin Place.''
"This event could, and already has, strike deep into the heart and psyche of the Australian people.
"This in many ways is an escalation of terror.
Mr Ware told the Nine Network it was 'impossible to over-emphasise the dire situation that we have here unfolding'.
"We have seen how many of these situations around the world have ended.
"We will be hoping against hope that we don't see something that here in Australia.''
Mr Ware said the Shahada flag being displayed in the window was significant.
"The flag that is being displayed this morning is not linked to any one Islamic militant group it is being linked to all of them.''
"It is very simple, yet it is very ominous in this situation.
"This is three simple phrases, written in Arabic, which are at the heart of Islamic belief.
"It is the very tenet of Islam.
"What the Shahada says is there is only one god and that god is Allah and the prophet Mohammad is his messenger.''
It is the first thing Muslims say in their prayers.
A Middle East expert told Nine the flag had been 'hijacked' by terror groups in recent years, even though it was more a central statement of the Islamic faith.
The phrase appears on the Saudi national flag.
Mr Ware said in a recent terror operation in Africa, people were pulled aside and those who could not recite the Shahada were executed.
Channel 7 footage shows the gunman being an older person.
Mr Ware speculated he could be a veteran of overseas conflicts, though made it clear that was highly unlikely.
"The gravest fear that I would hold ... is to wonder if this person is a veteran (with military training) of any of these foreign holy wars.''
"As I say, that is most unlikely.''