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Australia to expand its list of terror groups

November 25, 2021 at 3:39 a.m.

CANBERRA, Australia — Australia on Wednesday said it intends to add far-right extremist group The Base and the entirety of the Lebanese group Hezbollah to its list of outlawed terrorist organizations as national security services grapple with a surge in neo-Nazi cells and other ideologically motivated extremists.

The Base, a neo-Nazi white supremacist group formed in the United States in 2018, would become only the second far-right group to be designated a terrorist organization in Australia after the British-based Sonnenkrieg Division was listed in August, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said.

The remaining 25 terrorist organizations on Australia’s list are Islamist groups, including Hezbollah’s External Security Organization, which was designated under Australia’s Criminal Code in 2003.

Including all Hezbollah entities as terrorist organizations would make being a member of or supporting those entities a criminal offense.

Andrews said terrorist organizations were watching as Australia lifted border and pandemic restrictions while allowing its vaccinated citizens to present themselves as potential targets by gathering in greater numbers.

“We know there is a threat of terrorism here in Australia and that there is a threat of terrorism right across the world,” Andrews said. “We have recently witnessed that in both the United Kingdom and in New Zealand.” She was alluding to Australian white supremacist Brenton Tarrant, who killed 51 worshippers at two New Zealand mosques in 2019.

The following year, a major report found New Zealand’s intelligence agencies had been far too focused on the threat posed by Islamic extremism at the expense of other threats including white supremacism.

Australia’s counterterror intelligence chief, Mike Burgess, warned in August that Australians as young as 16 were being radicalized to support white-supremacy groups, and that half of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization’s most important domestic antiterrorism cases now involve neo-Nazi cells and other ideologically motivated groups.

Burgess said the shift in the national security threat away from religiously motivated terrorism was being fueled by disinformation surrounding the covid-19 pandemic and other global events.

 

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