05 Terror on the fringe
VICTORIA’S top counter terror cop has warned of a rise in politically motivated violence from extreme groups.
Assistant Commissioner Ross Guenther, head of Victoria Police’s counter-terrorism command, told the Sunday Herald Sun there had been a concerning change in the dynamic between “extreme elements of the political Left and Right” in recent years and it was important the force didn’t concentrate solely on Islamic extremism.
“We are concerned at the rise of politically motivated violence here,” Mr Guenther said.
While international events including the 2016 murder of British MP Jo Cox and violent clashes in Paris between protesters and police this week show the level of violence those influenced by politics are willing to use, there have been incidents in Victoria that have concerned police.
A Braybrook man was arrested in 2016 and charged, with police alleging he talked about bombing the headquarters of Melbourne’s anarchists.
The man is accused of having links to anti-immigration groups and is currently awaiting trial.
In September, three people were arrested after Left-wing protesters confronted supporters of Nigel Farage outside the Right-wing British politician’s speaking event in Collins St.
Mr Guenther said Victoria Police had carried out many investigations related to the activities of those associated with extreme elements of the political Left and Right.
“The Counter-Terrorism Command monitors the activities of a number of persons of interest it assesses as being at risk of engaging in politically motivated violence or terrorism,” he said.
“The Right, which has been invigorated and re-energised by a range of local and international developments (including the global rise in the support for populist parties), which in turn has led to a situation in which their ideological opponents, particularly the political Left, have become increasingly active, and in some instances, violent, in their efforts to counter the influence and messaging of their opponents.”