SYDNEY – Australia said on Friday that it was keeping a watch on white supremacists, a week after an attack against two mosques in New Zealand had left 50 people dead and another 50 wounded.
“You are on our radar and you will not be able to incite the racial strife that you seek,” Home Affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo said, while speaking to a parliamentary committee.
Australian national Brenton Tarrant was identified as the sole suspect in the mosque attacks in New Zealand’s Christchurch city on March 15.
Tarrant, who is due to appear in the High Court on April 5 charged with one count of murder, had fired indiscriminately with several semi-automatic guns at those gathered at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques.
“The scrutiny and pressure that you are under will only intensify,” Pezzullo added, Australian broadcaster ABC reported.
However, he did not reveal the number of people with “extremist ideology of white supremacy” being monitored in Australia.
Tarrant had live streamed the attack through Facebook for 17 minutes, and had also published an anti-Muslim manifesto on social networks before the massacre.
Pezzullo said that the authorities were working together with the Federal Police and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation to investigate a man, who had allegedly helped Tarrant draft the manifesto.
There have been several assaults by white supremacists in Australia in recent years.
A neo-Nazi group formed in Melbourne in 2016, which idolizes Adolf Hitler on its website, is also being investigated.
Meanwhile, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Thursday the government will ban military-style semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles, as well as high-capacity magazines and parts that can modify weapons into semi-automatics, which she hopes will be approved by mid-April.
The measure, also backed by the opposition National Party, was decided after the 28-year-old attacker had acquired five weapons legally.
Earlier, local media had reported that Ardern had received a death threat from a social media account that apparently contained supremacist messages.
A spokesperson for the New Zealand Police had told EFE that they were “aware of a comment made on Twitter and is making inquiries into it,” without providing further details.
On Friday, New Zealand observed two minutes of silence to remember victims of the Christchurch attack, considered the worst mass shooting in the country’s modern history.