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Australia & World

ASIO Warns of Escalating Extremists Seeking to Instigate ‘Race War’ in Australia

Over the past eighteen months, Australia’s leading security agency has issued a stark warning regarding the surge in activity among racist and nationalist extremists aiming to incite a race-based conflict within the nation. According to ASIO, ideologically motivated violent extremists (IMVE) now constitute approximately a quarter of its priority counter-terrorism efforts, with a notable focus on nationalist and racist violent extremism (NRVE). This dangerous trend, as outlined in ASIO’s submission to a parliamentary inquiry on far-right extremism, signifies a persistent threat characterized by evolving ideologies and an increasing advocacy for sabotage and accelerationism among NRVE circles.

Inspired by events such as the 2019 Christchurch shooting perpetrated by an Australian individual with racist, far-right beliefs, many extremists have escalated their rhetoric and activities towards fomenting racial tensions. ASIO underscores the significant risk posed by lone wolf actors, similar to the Christchurch assailant, who may swiftly transition from radicalization to violence without prior indication. However, while acknowledging the gravity of IMVE-related concerns, ASIO also notes that established nationalist and racist groups primarily concentrate on recruitment and radicalization rather than direct attack planning at present.

Moreover, ASIO highlights the profound influence of online platforms in facilitating the radicalization and dissemination of extremist ideologies globally, a phenomenon exacerbated by increased internet usage during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite these alarming developments, ASIO’s submission refrains from explicitly categorizing the threat as solely right-wing extremism, emphasizing the complexity and intersectionality of contemporary ideological extremism. ASIO’s departure from traditional labels such as right-wing and left-wing extremism in favor of broader terms like ideologically motivated violent extremism reflects the recognition that extremist motivations often transcend conventional political boundaries.

As ASIO aptly observes, the landscape of ideological extremism is characterized by multifaceted beliefs, conspiracies, and anti-authoritarian sentiments, defying simplistic categorization along the political spectrum. This nuanced understanding underscores the necessity of adaptive counter-terrorism strategies that address the diverse motivations and tactics employed by extremists. Ultimately, the parliamentary inquiry, to which ASIO’s submission was provided, is tasked with comprehensively assessing the threat posed by far-right extremism and formulating effective responses to safeguard Australia’s security and social cohesion.

With the inquiry expected to deliver its report by December 6, the findings and recommendations will be critical in shaping national policies and initiatives aimed at countering the escalating menace of ideological extremism and preserving the principles of tolerance and inclusivity upon which Australian society is founded.

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