Australia catching up with proscription of far-right groups

By Tom Ravlic

November 26, 2021

Priti Patel
Britain’s Home Secretary Priti Patel. The British government said on Nov. 19, 2021 it plans to proscribe the Palestinian militant group Hamas as a terrorist organisation. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

The coming proscription of the far-right accelerationist group The Base is a sign that Australia is gradually catching up with its Five Eyes partners where the proscription of far-right, white supremacist groups is concerned.

Proscription of The Base would take the total number of ideologically motivated violent extremist groups to two. The other is the Sonnenkrieg Division.

Both are clearly organisations meriting recognition for their activities and the manner in which they advocate for acts of violent extremism in line with a specific set of political beliefs.

For acts of ‘violent extremism, read ‘terrorism’ if the acts committed are in line with a belief set regardless of its inspiration or source.

The federal government has been under fire for not moving quickly enough to proscribe more far-right organisations by the federal opposition and community groups that have seen a steady increase in the activity of specific groups advocating white supremacist, national socialist, and anti-government agendas.

Those criticisms are appropriately levelled at western governments who spent more time focusing intelligence and military resources on grappling with Islamist threats as a part of the so-called War on Terror.

This means too few resources were spent keeping an eye on the white supremacists, anti-government, anarchist, and sovereign citizens who would cause grief.

New Zealand’s royal commission into the March 2019 killings of 51 people by an Australian terrorist noted that more time was spent chasing Islamist groups than looking at other potential terror threats.

Western countries are catching up, and one example of this is the proscription regime that Canada has implemented, and added more organisations to this year.

Proscriptions lists from Five Eyes partners such as Canada, which has 77 terrorist organisations listed compared with Australia’s 26, spur the criticism of the pace at which Australia moves to proscribe organisations.

Canada has had two lots of proscription announced just this year, and organisations that are far-right adherents feature prominently in those line-ups.

A list of proscribed organisations released in February named 13 organisations and was made up of far-right and Islamist organisations.

Al Qaeda affiliates listed back in February were Jama’at Nusrat Al-Islam Wal-Muslimin, Front de Libération du Macina, and Ansar Dine; five Islamic State affiliates were also named.

Those Islamic State (or Daesh) equivalents are: Islamic State West Africa Province, Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, Islamic State in Libya, Islamic State East Asia, and Islamic State – Bangladesh.

An organisation called Hizbul Mujahideen was listed on its lonesome.

What was interesting about the February proscription listing was the inclusion of far-right groups such as Atomwaffen Division, the Base, the Proud Boys and Russian Imperial Movement.

Another release from the Canadian government in June revealed it had proscribed a further four organisations or individuals.

A militia group based in the US and known as the Three-Percenters — one of several groups to have participated in the January 6 storming of the Capitol — has made it to the league table of proscribed groups along with an organisation called the Aryan Strikeforce.

Another group proscribed in June by Canada was an Islamic State affiliate based in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Prominent neo-nazi James Mason, the author of a book seen by various far-right supremacist groups as a guidebook, was proscribed as an individual in Canada. His work has been cited as a source by the Atomwaffen Division.

Proscription of an individual also has been done regarding the Australian terrorist involved in the Christchurch shootings. That person has been proscribed as an individual by the New Zealand government.

Australia and Canada are two jurisdictions that are trying to make up for the time that has been lost because jurisdictions were focused on al Qaeda and Islamic State following the events of September 11.

Time not spent looking at the far right closely across the globe has meant the growth of that particular threat.

One only has to look at the way in which extremist sentiments related to hanging public figures has gone from rebellious channels on encrypted messaging apps through to the streets of Melbourne during recent protests against vaccine mandates.


READ MORE:

Government to list two new terrorist organisations

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