The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) has said that radical right-wing organisations are a threat to the country's security. The intelligence's Director-general Duncan Lewis has mentioned ASIO is keeping an eye on such groups, particularly on Reclaim Australia – a body which holds rallies in cities across the country to protest against Islam.
Lewis said that the group has "offered violence" in the past and will probably continue to do so when they confront pro-Islamic bodies.
Officials had charged a member of the right-wing group under commonwealth terror laws in August for allegedly collecting or making documents to plan for terrorist acts.
"To the extent that there is a possibility of violence, or there is indeed violence being offered, that is of interest to us. That is business for ASIO," Lewis said in a Senate committee late on Tuesday (18 October) night.
"It is a real problem and it is something that we're very, very acutely aware of and I have people working that particular issue," he added.
But, Reclaim Australia dismissed the allegations by saying that it does not condone violence.
"Reclaim has never condoned violence and we never will. Reclaim has worked closely with police at past events to ensure public safety," a statement from the group read.
Lewis also mentioned that the threat from radical groups had grown over the past one and a half year and added that up to 70 Australian children have been exposed to such groups in the battlefields of Syria or Iraq.
"I wouldn't describe it as going up in any vertical way. It's come off a low base and it's now more present than it was," the director-general said.
The intelligence head highlighted that ASIO was investigating about 190 people in the country who were actively supporting groups, like Islamic State (Isis) through recruiting or fundraising.
"As Isil's [another name for Isis] territory continues to contract, it's expected that many of those Australians who are supporting Isil in Syria and Iraq will be killed or captured," Lewis said.
He also warned that action will be taken against those who return to Australia after committing a terrorist attacks. To date, the agency has cancelled the passports of over 190 Australians linked to extremist groups.
"Let me be absolutely clear: the threat of terrorism in Australia is real and present in our community. It required vigilance by both the Australian community and abroad, and governments of all levels to continue to combat it," Lewis said.