Australia’s spy agency has warned that far-right extremist groups are exploiting the coronavirus crisis to recruit new members.
According to an Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) briefing published by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Friday, far-right individuals now account for one third of ASIO investigations.
The briefing warned that extreme right-wing rhetoric was reaching an unprecedented audience during the coronavirus lockdown with people spending more time online while socially isolated.
“COVID-19 restrictions are being exploited by extreme right-wing narratives that paint the state as oppressive, and globalization and democracy as flawed and failing,” it said.
“We assess the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced an extreme right-wing belief in the inevitability of societal collapse and a ‘race war’.
ASIO has repeatedly warned of an increase in online extremist activity during the coronavirus lockdown.
It warned that right-wing groups were latching on to conspiracy theories linking the coronavirus to 5G technology in an attempt to bring people across to right-wing ideologies.
“While the threat of violence inspired by Islamic extremism remains ASIO’s greatest concern, extreme right-wing groups and individuals represent a serious, increasing and evolving threat to security,” ASIO said.
“Unfortunately, extreme right-wing groups are more organized, sophisticated and security-conscious than before.”
“These groups are becoming increasingly ideological; more aware of and committed to specific dogmas, philosophies and views, many of which support or glorify violence.”
According to the ABC the Federal Government is considering funding a National Anti Racism strategy to counter a rise in racism and right-wing extremism.