Canberra, Aug 13 (IANS) Australian security authorities are concerned about the rising influence of right-wing extremist groups in the country, the media reported on Saturday.
A number of hard-line anti-Islam groups, born in 2015 as Islamic State (IS) rose to prominence, are being monitored by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), Xinhua news agency reported.
The groups, such as the United Patriots Front, Rise Up Australia and the Australian Defence League, are opposed to multi-culturalism and seek to “stop the islamisation of nations”.
“Politically-motivated extremism is increasing, and it is a concern to the AFP and its law enforcement and national security partners,” Jennifer Hurst, Federal Police Assistant Commissioner, said on Saturday.
The increased vigilance in monitoring members of the right-wing groups was responsible for the arrest of Phillip Galea, a self-styled “patriot” and member of the Australian Defence League, who was held in Melbourne in August on terror-related charges.
Police told Melbourne’s Magistrates Court that monitoring Galea’s phone calls for up to three months led to the 31-year old man being charged with planning a terrorist attack and collecting material connected to an attack.
An investigation published on Saturday revealed that Galea and two other members of right-wing groups were planning an attack on members of a radical left-wing group.
Galea’s alleged plot followed a warning from ASIO in October 2015 that “violent rhetoric continued from extreme right-wing and left-wing individuals in Australia” and that the “terrorist environment is likely to remain fluid and will be affected by nationalist and ethnic tensions, acts of violence overseas and an increased propensity and ability for violence-prone individuals to move to action”.
Members of extremist groups from both sides of the political spectrum clashed in Melbourne’s northern suburbs in May, forcing riot police to intervene and separate the groups.
Support for the conservative right-wing movement reached record highs in Australia’s July federal election with controversial senator-elect Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party, which has called for a royal commission into Islam and a ban on all halal products, winning four seats in the Senate.