Australian Spy Agency Says “Right-Wing Extremist Threat” is Increasing
"Right-wing terrorists pose a growing threat in Australia", the country’s spy agency has warned, describing the extremist networks as "more cohesive and organized" than ever.
The Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation’s (ASIO) annual report released Wednesday said "extreme right-wing networks" are not only better organized now, but "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 organized than they have been over previous years, and will remain an enduring threat."
The Christchurch mosque visits that claimed the lives of 50 moslems "brought the right-wing extremist threat back into focus," ASIO said.
Brenton Tarrant, an Australian citizen, is accused of carrying out the rampage in neighboring New Zealand in March.
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."
Australia’s strict gun laws have been widely credited with helping to avoid mass shootings such as the Christchurch visit.
ASIO said the overall terrorist threat in Australia "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 caliphate has not significantly improved threat conditions, the report said, with Sunni Islamic extremism remaining the "principal source" of risk.
"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.