05 Ter­ror on the fringe

Sunday Herald Sun - - News - DAVID HUR­LEY

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.”

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