Showing terrorism comes in all shapes and forms, a radicalized white supremacist with a stockpile of homemade guns reportedly expressed an intention to commit a mass shooting at Tuggerah Westfield.
Michael James Holt, 26, pleaded guilty recently to several firearm manufacture and possession charges after police found a large stash across three properties in 2015.
“It was reported that the offender often talked about loading weapons into his vehicle and driving to a very public place where he would ‘just start shooting it up’ most recently saying he wanted to do this to Westfields at Tuggerah,” an agreed statement of facts tendered in Penrith Local Court said
“The unemployed college drop-out is infatuated with neo-Nazi ideology and once told a school friend that he dreamed of walking through the school shooting students and teachers”, the agreed facts continued. He told his school counsellor that Adolf Hitler was “the greatest person to live“.
In a court room twist that showed perhaps Australia is not yet ready to morph itself into a miniature version of America, Holt is being represented by Muslim community advocate and lawyer Lydia Shelly. She declined to comment on the case.
Deradicalisation academics have also put him in touch with a reformed white supremacist who is helping to change his views.
The case of Holt highlighted the evolving threat posed by violent, right-wing extremism in Australia with experts warning against public complacency. The groups often draw inspiration from American organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan, Neo Nazis, and in more recent times US President Donald Trump.
Greg Barton, counter-terrorism expert at Deakin University, told the Sun Herald that political developments in Europe and America were fanning the existing flames of extremism in Australia.
“One of the things you want Australians to pay attention to is recognising that hateful speech and incitement to hatred in the political field is not just something that remains a political play,” he said.
“It has the potential to give people a sense of a green light to be more outrageous in their opinions and eventually those individuals have some sort of social license to try some sort of attack.”
ASIO and the Australian Federal Police recently revealed that they have a close eye on many right-wing extremists. Counter-terrorism grants in NSW have been allocated to groups such as All Together Now, formerly known as Exit White Power, which works to undermine recruitment of white nationalists.
Holt will be sentenced in March.