Violent propaganda an ‘monumental problem’ for safety companies amid rising rightwing menace – report | Australian safety and counter-terrorism


Using social media to unfold propaganda that glorifies indiscriminate violence poses an “monumental ongoing problem” for Australia’s safety companies, amid a fast growth of utmost rightwing materials, a brand new report says.

The Independent National Security Legislation Monitor’s annual report has supplied an perception into the “evolving” menace of terrorism in Australia, noting that each Islamist and rightwing extremists have elevated their propagandising efforts throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

The report flagged a forthcoming overview of Australia’s espionage and international interference legal guidelines and mentioned the impartial safety monitor was wrestling with difficult questions of find out how to examine considerations about secrecy in nationwide security-related court docket circumstances.

Grant Donaldson SC, a former solicitor basic of Western Australia who was appointed to the impartial monitoring function final yr, famous the terrorist menace degree remained at “possible” however the nature of the problem continued to alter.

Donaldson knowledgeable parliament, within the report tabled late on Thursday, that Australian safety companies continued to pursue a lot of high-priority investigations, primarily regarding Islamist extremists.

He mentioned a number of the 45 or so Australians who had returned from the Syria or Iraq battle zones remained “a big safety threat”, whereas plenty of terrorism offenders have been scheduled for launch from Australian prisons over the subsequent 5 years.

However in an indication of the shifting safety surroundings, Donaldson added: “The menace from excessive rightwing terrorists has elevated since the Christchurch attack and subsequent related assaults and there stays the potential of people being radicalised to excessive rightwing ideologies.”

Through the reporting interval of 2019-20, the variety of jihadist assaults within the west had declined, whereas the variety of excessive rightwing assaults elevated in Europe and america, Donaldson wrote.

He mentioned the pandemic would proceed to have implications for counter-terrorism efforts, amid “considerations that social isolation attributable to lockdowns could lead susceptible people to interact extra with terrorist propaganda”.

“Each Islamist and rightwing extremists have elevated their propagandising efforts throughout this era,” the report mentioned.

Donaldson mentioned the narratives underpinning the terrorist menace to Australia continued to diversify, with each jihadists and the acute proper weaving the pandemic into their world view.

“For the previous it’s a divine punishment inflicted on its enemies; for the latter it’s a plague unfold by its enemies and a possibility to speed up societal collapse,” he wrote.

“Widespread dissemination, through social media, of propaganda that glorifies indiscriminate violence poses an unlimited ongoing problem.”

Donaldson mentioned whereas there had been a big decline within the media output of Islamic State (Isis), it remained prolific, “and the chance of low degree terrorist assaults utilizing crude strategies, in addition to excessive influence assaults with important causalities, stays”.

Excessive rightwing propaganda had “additionally seen a fast growth since Christchurch”.

“All of this propaganda romanticises and encourages violence and a few of it supplies sensible ‘find out how to’ recommendation,” he mentioned, noting that Australia continued to characteristic on this materials as a goal and supply of recruits.

“The proliferation of on-line platforms has revolutionised radicalisation throughout ideologies and can proceed to take action as these applied sciences evolve. This propaganda will proceed to affect the susceptible.”

Donaldson mentioned Isis had pioneered the terrorist use of social media and propaganda, permitting it to “attain into western societies” and to construct “self-sustaining” communities even after setbacks.

“Excessive rightwing teams and people are growing related networks and linkages, sharing propaganda throughout borders and lauding and inspiring violence and atrocities such because the Christchurch assault,” he mentioned.

The report provides to recent warnings by Asio and the new head of the intelligence committee in regards to the rising menace of the far proper, and comes as MPs put together to conduct an inquiry into extremist movements.

Guardian Australia reported on Thursday that the US chief of the Proud Boys had praised one of many group’s Australian members as “wonderful” after he filmed himself making threats on the office of a person who he believed made a adverse remark about him on social media. The Proud Boys, a neo-fascist group, is now listed as a terrorist organisation in Canada.

The impartial safety monitor, a place established by the Rudd authorities in 2010, opinions the operation, effectiveness and implications of Australia’s nationwide safety and counter-terrorism legal guidelines.

Donaldson, appointed in November after performing within the function since July, mentioned he had “not seen something to point that the laws topic to my overview has been used for issues unrelated to counter-terrorism or nationwide safety”.

His predecessor, Dr James Renwick SC, printed a report in July calling for the attorney general to be stripped of the facility to approve orders that may drive tech and social media firms to assist safety providers to probably spy on the general public.

Renwick additionally called for changes to citizenship-stripping laws.

Within the newest annual report, Donaldson famous he was because of start a overview of the Turnbull-era espionage and international interference legal guidelines within the second half of 2021 – one thing that may be “an unlimited activity”.

Donaldson mentioned his predecessor had initiated a overview of legal guidelines permitting suppression of data throughout court docket proceedings, as they particularly associated to the so-called Alan Johns matter.

The pseudonym refers to a mysterious inmate in a Canberra jail who was prosecuted and jailed in complete secrecy.

If it turned inconceivable to overview simply the legal guidelines as they utilized to the Alan Johns matter, Donaldson would conduct a broader overview of the Nationwide Safety (Legal and Civil Proceedings) Act 2004.

However he had misgivings a couple of broader overview on the present time, given provisions of the identical regulation have been “at present the topic of intense controversy in prosecutions earlier than the ACT courts of Bernard Collaery and a former intelligence officer pseudonymised as ‘Witness K’”.

“I foreshadow although that, due to the extraordinary nature of the orders made within the Alan Johns matter, I’m more likely to overview at the least sure elements of the NSI Act and begin this promptly.”