Leftist politicians, social media Antifa supporters and the mainstream media have for most of the past year been demanding a crackdown on so-called right-wing extremism which they claim is on the rise and a national security threat.
Labor Shadow Home Affairs Minister Kristina Kennelley spent most of 2020 demanding a parliamentary inquiry into right-wing extremism. Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton capitulated into Kennelley’s demand for such an inquiry in December last year asking the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Security and Intelligence to conduct an inquiry into extremism including but not limited to right-wing extremism and Islamic extremism and whether the covid pandemic and lockdowns had contributed to a rise in ‘extremism’.
Submissions to the inquiry closed mid-February, only seven submissions all written by government agencies were publicly released. The next stage of the inquiry is likely to be a series of public hearings with testimony by stakeholders with a final report delivered to Peter Dutton in April.
The trigger for this inquiry being announced was the release on December 8 2020 of the New Zealand Commission of Inquiry final report into the Christchurch terrorist massacre, in particular, the killer Brenton Tarrant’s interactions with the white nationalist community online in his native Australia.
Then the very next day on December 9 Albury teenager Tyler Jakovac was arrested after a joint investigation between the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and NSW Police. They are alleging Jakovac shared bomb-making instructions and expressed support for an extremist ideology on an encrypted messaging service.
What followed the events of that week in December was a number of op-eds from so-called ‘right-wing’ extremist experts going through their wish list of what they wanted the inquiry to consider and alleging Australian authorities have let right-wing extremism grow underneath the radar.
Kristina Kennelley’s main demand is that the Federal Government list some far-right extremist organisations as terrorist organisations. This week the British national socialist group Sonnenkrieg Division (SKD) became the first such far-right organisation listed as a terrorist entity and banned in Australia.
Peter Dutton first made the announcement on A Current Affair (ACA) on March 1 during a story on the National Socialist Network. Leader Thomas Sewell had traveled to Channel 9 Melbourne earlier that day with fellow member Jacob Hersant to demand to speak with A Current Affair reporters. This resulted in Sewell getting into a physical altercation with an Afro-Caribbean security guard. Sewell was subsequently charged by Victoria Police’s Counter Terrorism Command with affray, recklessly causing injury and unlawful assault, and was bailed to appear before the Melbourne Magistrates Court on July 27.
The National Socialist Network has been the main Australian organisation that Kennelley and others have demanded be listed as a terrorist entity and highlighted as proof right-wing extremism is on the rise. The network attracted widespread media attention after its Australia Day campaign trip to the Grampians hiking area in regional Western Victoria. During this trip they engaged in pro-Nazi chants and songs and photographed themselves burning a cross Klu-Klux Klan style.
ASIO Director-General’s Mike Burgess statement that 40% of the organisation’s resources are now spent monitoring potential right-wing extremism is constantly repeated by the mainstream media, the so-called “extremism experts” and Kristina Kennelley.
Brisbane ISIS Terrorist Double Murder
But the reality about potential terrorism and extremism threats is that Islamic and ISIS-inspired threats are still a present danger to Australia’s national security. Although ISIS is largely defeated in the Middle East the caliphate still has a large online following of young Muslims in the West.
A week after the extremism inquiry was on December 19th ISIS supporter Raghe Abdi cut off a GPS tracking device he was wearing as part of his bail conditions for pending terrorism charges and murdered an elderly couple in Brisbane’s outer suburbs. Queensland Police offers were forced to shoot him dead on the Logan Motorway.
ISIS Terrorist Re-Arrested in Sydney
Then on January 16th this year a man convicted of associating with ISIS terrorists was rearrested by Australian Federal Police for breaching a Control Order after accessing material online supporting the carrying out of executions, beheadings, and torture.
He had only been released on this control order on January 1 this year which would have been in place for the whole of 2021, he was denied bail after his rearrest. The AFP’s Acting Commander of Enduring Risk Investigations Alex Nicholson said of the rearrested man he has “an extremist ideology aligned to the ISIS terror network”.
Victoria Police Arrest and Charge Two Brothers
On March 17 it broke that Victoria Police had arrested three men in relation to a potential terror plot. Two of the men were brothers 19-year-old Ari Sherani and 20-year-old Aran Sherani from Epping and were charged with serious terrorism charges and police allege they were radicalized by online Islamic extremism and began their plans for violence by starting a fire in Humevale. A 16-year-old boy from Pascoe Vale was the third man arrested but released without charge. At the Victoria Police press conference that afternoon it took a bit of media questioning of Assistant Commissioner Michael Hermans from Victoria Police Counter Terrorism Command for him to confirm it was an Islamic extremism-related arrest.
On March 25 the Australian Federal Police arrested Gabriel Crazzi, 34 in Brisbane and Ahmed Talib, 31 of Melbourne whom they allege ran a sophisticated terrorist syndicate that sent Australians over to Syria to fight for ISIS. They are alleged to have assisted Ahmed Succarieh, believed to be Australia’s first suicide bomber travel to Syria where he blew himself up when he drove a truck loaded with explosives into a military checkpoint in September 2013 which killed 35 people.
Due to these recent ISIS-related terror arrests, the mainstream media over the past weekend published a series of articles re-enforcing their right-wing extremism on the rise narrative. This included comments from Victoria Police that they were worried about the far-right infiltrating their police force and had an active investigation into an extreme right-wing group which they didn’t name.
ASIO Annual Threat Assessment
On the evening of March 17th Mike Burgess delivered ASIO’s Annual Threat Assessment from Canberra where he stated that the agency would no longer use the terms ‘Islamic extremism or ‘right-wing extremism’ deeming them no longer fit for purpose. Instead, the agency will use the umbrella terms ‘religiously motivated violent extremism’ and ‘ideologically motivated violent extremism’.
Kennelly and co were alarmed that ASIO would no longer use the term right-wing extremism accusing him of caving into conservatives like Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells who believed the term smeared all on the right. Burgess has said that his agency’s primary concern is violent groups and groups threatening violence but reassured a Guardian Australia podcast “When I see an extreme rightwing group such as neo-Nazis or National Socialist Network wanting to promote violence, we’ll take action and I will say their name or the group name that they in fact give themselves”.
Despite the media narrative about right-wing extremism and 40% of law enforcement terrorism resources monitoring so-called extremists on the right, the agencies are obviously still gravely concerned about potential ISIS terrorism growing in Australia that they need to take action against radicalized young men inspired by radical Islam and charge them with terrorism offenses.