Right-wing extremist terror fears: Authorities concerned groups spurred by online propaganda

By James Dowling in the Herald Sun.

AUTHORITIES are concerned right-wing extremists are plotting violence, fearing members of ultra-nationalist groups will be spurred into ­action by bigoted online propaganda.

As visible far-Right political groups become a beacon for those with bigoted views, ­federal law enforcement officials warn right-wing ideologues have started behaving like ­Islamic extremists and begun talking about attacks.

“We are definitely seeing more action on the right-wing side of things,” a source said.

Right-wing extremists are among the more than 300 ­people on Victoria’s terrorism watch list.

Experts believe right-wing extremists have been able to use social media to organise supporters and spread propaganda — similar to ­Islamic ­terror groups.

The United Patriots Front Facebook page is littered with bigoted comments against Islam and other groups. Alarmingly among the posts are advocates for violence.

One user said: “Sometimes it is necessary to take up our swords and stand against the enemy who would kill our children, our elderly and us.”

Another suggested lynching and sterilising the Muslim population.

Ultra-national groups have campaigned against the building of Mosques and also clashed with counter-demonstrators at a number of rallies in the past three years.

Online Hate Prevention Institute chief executive Andre Oboler said a right-wing terrorist attack was a certainty.

“When it comes to right-wing extremists, the question is when, not if such an attack will occur,” Dr Oboler said.

He said an attack could come from disaffected members “who tire of rhetoric and decide they need to push the envelope”.

Dr Oboler’s group has estimated about 200,000 Australians follow hate pages.

Counter-terror expert Greg Barton said young Australians were highly connected online and were watching the rise of the far Right in the northern hemisphere.

“It will bounce back on us quickly,” he said.

“The sense I get from police is they’re more concerned about right-wing extremism than the general public.”

The Victorian State Government has plans for a deradicalisation program to push a counter-narrative to violent right-wing views — similar to that used against Islamic State propaganda. The government is also researching the effectiveness of UK and US programs that use former radicals to mentor those at risk of right-wing extremism.

Source: James Dowling, “Right-wing extremist terror fears: Authorities concerned groups spurred by online propaganda“, Herald Sun, 22 July 2016