Right-wing extremist threat rising in Australia

SYDNEY • Right-wing terrorists pose a growing threat in Australia, the country's spy agency has warned, describing the extremist networks as "more cohesive and organised" than ever.

The Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation's (ASIO) annual report, released on Wednesday, said extreme right-wing networks are not only better organised now, but also "more sophisticated" than in the past.

"The threat from the extreme right wing in Australia has increased in recent years," it said. "Extreme right-wing groups in Australia are more cohesive and organised than they have been over previous years, and will remain an enduring threat."

The mosque attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, that killed 50 people in March "brought the right-wing extremist threat back into focus", it added.

Australian Brenton Tarrant is accused of carrying out the attack.

The spy agency predicted that any future right-wing attack in Australia would likely be "low capability" and carried out by a lone wolf or small group, though it did not rule out the possibility of a "sophisticated weapons attack".

ASIO also said the overall terrorist threat in the country "remains elevated" on the basis of intelligence that "indicates an intention and capability to conduct a terrorist attack in Australia".

The collapse of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) caliphate has not significantly improved threat conditions, said the report.

"The threat from home-grown terrorism, coupled with the anticipated attempts by some terrorist fighters to return to Australia, remains a matter of the gravest security concern," it said.

Australia has banned citizens who fought for ISIS from returning home for up to two years.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 18, 2019, with the headline 'Right-wing extremist threat rising in Australia'. Print Edition | Subscribe