A shooting at the home of Nathan Abela, the leader of the anti-Muslim Australian Defence League (ADL) in Sydney’s western suburbs, has once again placed the organisation under the spotlight. While the incident is subject to ongoing investigation by police, Abela himself has been charged with hindering the police investigation, along with several other offences related to his activity on behalf of the ADL. The 7.30 Report’s piece on Monday provides a glimpse into these activities:
"The Australian Defence League has been following and photographing Muslim women on public transport, displaying anti-Islamic posters outside mosques and filming at Muslim schools and posting the videos online. The League, which incites its followers to violence, is led by a former soldier who claims to have support from within the Defence Force."
That former soldier is Ralph Cerminara, a man whose service record has been called into question on the notorious Australian and New Zealand Military Impostors website.
Whatever Cerminara’s actual record, or the extent of military support for the ADL, in the last five years the ADL has undergone several incarnations. Control of the group, which until recently had little in the way of formal structure, has largely concerned control of the ADL label and who, if anybody, is entitled to speak on its behalf. In an ironic twist, a previous self-proclaimed leader of the ADL, Englishman Martin Brennan, was expelled from Australia in mid-2011 for visa violations. Currently, there’s something in the vicinity of 40 pages on Facebook, including various splinter groups, dedicated to promoting the ADL, both “official” and “unofficial”.
As noted by The 7.30 Report and as documented by the Online Hate Prevention Institute, the intensity of Islamophobia and attendant issues regarding the place of asylum seekers, refugees and (especially) non-white immigrants in (white) Australia has given rise to some extremely violent and often murderous rhetoric on the part of White nationalists. Much of the ideological ballast for this anti-Muslim activism is drawn from more visible oganisations like the Q Society and a number of right-wing media commentators.
There is a real possibility of serious violence being committed by members of the far right. In the United States this was highlighted by the recent publication of the Southern Poverty Law Centre’s analysis of the Stormfront website and more so when three people were shot dead in Kansas City on 13 April, allegedly by a far right activist named Frazier Glenn Miller.
According to the SPLC, “nearly 100 people in the last five years have been murdered by active users of the leading racist website”. The report goes on:
"Stormfront users have included Wade Michael Page, who shot to death six people before killing himself at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in 2012; Richard Andrew Poplawski, who murdered three Pittsburgh police officers in 2009; and Anders Behring Breivik, who bombed a government building in Norway, killing eight people, and then massacred 69 people, most of them teenagers, at a summer camp in 2011."
Established by former Klansman and convicted terrorist Don Black in 1995, Stormfront has a portion of the site dedicated to users from Australia and New Zealand. Described by the SPLC as a “magnet and breeding ground for the deadly and the deranged”, among the many local groups which use it to publicise their causes and recruit members are the Australia First Party, Golden Dawn, Nationalist Alternative, Southern Cross Hammerskins and Volksfront.
The site was used extensively by the alleged Kansas shooter Frazier Glenn Miller, a militant anti-Semite and white supremacist who has a long history on the far right, from being a witness to the Greensboro Massacre of 1979 — in which five anti-Klan protesters were shot and killed by members of the KKK and neo-Nazis (crimes for which no one was ever successfully prosecuted) — to being denounced by fellow White supremacists for allegedly becoming a state informant in the 1980s.
In Australia, the division in the far right between anti-Semitic and anti-Islamic camps has been fairly entrenched to this point, with both groups generally at pains to repudiate the other. Previously, members of the ADL and APP joined with local Zionists to counter protests against the Israeli-owned chocolate shop chain Max Brenner, which was subject to a series of actions by Palestinian solidarity activists.
The anti-immigrant (and especially anti-Muslim) policies and practices of Greek neo-Nazi organisation Golden Dawn have also acquired some resonance with the ADL, moreso since the 60 Minutes broadcast of Greek Tragedy: The rise of Europe's neo-Nazis. In his interview with 60 Minutes, Golden Dawn MP Ilias Panagiotaro — in addition to claiming that Hitler was a “great personality, like Stalin” — stated that Greece is currently being subject to invasion by “millions” of illegal immigrants, mostly Muslim, and mostly “jihadists”.
Leaving aside the glowing reference to Hitler and Golden Dawn’s neo-Nazi politics, this kind of rhetoric wins obvious support from those seeking to eliminate Islam from Australia — including the Australian Defence League. It’s therefore of no small importance that ADL President Cerminara has indicated he’ll be joining the Australia First Party and local members and supporters of Golden Dawn to rally in support of Golden Dawn in Brisbane next Friday.
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