Australian police have arrested an 18-year-old male who has allegedly expressed interest in committing a mass-casualty attack, motivated by “extremely right-wing ideology”.
Police on Wednesday said they expect to lay charges against the unidentified man from Albury, a small town 553km (344 miles) southwest of Sydney.
“The male we’ve arrested has an extremely right-wing ideology and is focused on neo-Nazi, white supremacist and anti-Semitic material,” Australian federal police official Scott Lee told reporters in Sydney.
“A couple of days ago, what we observed was an escalation in the tone which went to a support of a mass casualty event, and potentially his involvement in that event.”
Australia has been on heightened alert against the threat of right-wing violence after several recent attacks, including the massacre of 51 Muslim worshippers in Christchurch, New Zealand, by a white-supremacist gunman from Australia last year.
Increased threat by far right
Australian intelligence agencies have regularly warned of an increased threat from far-right individuals since the New Zealand attack.
Members of far-right parties have enjoyed increased electoral success in Australia in recent years.
Pauline Hanson, who rallied against Asian migration and Aboriginal Australians in the 1990s, was re-elected to the Senate in 2016 on a policy platform hostile to Muslims and refugees.
Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party has called for a travel ban from Muslim countries, a boycott of halal-certified products – notably chocolate Easter eggs in 2017 – and an end to “government funding of radical Islamic politics, dressed up as ‘arts and culture’”.
Hanson has said that Islam is a political ideology.
In 2018, Hanson introduced a motion in the Australian Senate condemning what it called “anti-white racism”, the motion declared: “It is OK to be white” – a slogan adopted by white-supremacists – and was narrowly voted down 31-28.
Several government ministers voted in favour of the motion and later apologised, blaming it on an “administrative error”.