CANBERRA – Australia said Thursday that it has added the US-based far-right extremist group National Socialist Order and plans to add the entire Palestinian group Hamas to its list of banned terrorist organizations as concerns about radicalized children grow.
The National Socialist Order, formerly known as the Atomwaffen Division, joins the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and Huras al-Din Islamist groups on the list, Interior Minister Karen Andrews said.
The military wing of Hamas, the Hamas Brigade of al-Din al-Qassam, has been listed as a terrorist since 2003.
The National Socialist Order, which advocates a global “racial war” and the collapse of democratic societies, joined the list on Thursday, bringing the number of banned groups to 28.
Two Islamist groups, both active in the Syrian civil war, will be included in the list in April.
Andrews wrote to the state government asking him to complete the inclusion of Hamas on the list as soon as possible.
“The views of Hamas and the violent extremist groups listed today are very worrying, and there is no place for such views in Australia,” Andrews said.
“It is important that our laws are aimed not only at terrorist acts and terrorists, but also at organizations that plan, finance and carry out these actions,” she added.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett congratulated his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison on the Hamas decision.
“I thank my friend, the Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison, for deciding to act on this issue after the conversation we had on this important matter. This is another important step in the global fight against terrorism, “Bennett said in a statement.
Israeli Foreign Minister Jair Lapid also thanked Australian Ambassador to Israel Paul Griffiths for what he called a “significant step” in Israel’s international efforts to reduce terrorist organizations.
Jeremy Leibler, president of the Zionist Federation of Australia, said the Hamas list clearly showed “Australia’s complete renunciation of hatred and terrorism.”
“There is absolutely no doubt that Hamas fully meets the definition of a terrorist organization,” Leibler said in a statement, adding that the decision unites Australia with the United States, the European Union, Britain and Canada.
The Australian Palestinian Defense Network, a national coalition of Australians who support Palestinian rights, disagreed that the political wing of Hamas was recognized as a terrorist organization.
“The government has failed in its duty to find a peaceful solution and has shown that it applies one set of rules to Palestine and the other to Israel,” said Network President Bishop George Browning.
The appointment is not conducive to promoting peace and will only cause more suffering to the 2 million people now living under the 15-year Israeli blockade, the Network said in a statement.
The National Socialist Order is only the third far-right group to be recognized by Australia as a terrorist organization.
The Base, a neo-Nazi group of white supremacists created in the U.S. in 2018, was listed in December, and the British division Sonnenkrieg was listed in August.
Mike Burgess, director general of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization, the country’s top domestic spy agency, said last week that pandemic restrictions in Australia in recent years had led to radicalization online when isolated people spent more time online.
The share of new counter-terrorism investigations involving minors has increased from less than 3% to 15% in just a few years, Burgess said in his annual threat assessment.
According to him, at the end of 2021, minors accounted for more than half of the priority investigations of the spy agency against terrorism.
Associated Press writer Ilan Ben Zion of Jerusalem contributed to this report.
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