Far-right extremist Phillip Galea was found guilty of plotting terror attacks targeting leftists and Muslims, three years ago, on Thursday. His targets included Trades Hall in Carlton, the Melbourne Anarchist Club in Northcote and the Resistance Centre in Melbourne's CBD, ABC reported. Consequently, he was charged with "acts in preparation for, or planning a terrorist act" and attempting to make a document likely to facilitate a terrorist act.
During the trial, prosecutors said that Galea was in possession of cattle prods and chemicals, found during an investigation in 2016. While the inspection was going on, documents were seized from his home computer and stored on a portable USB device, included 'Patriot's Cookbook'-prosecutors argued was a manifesto to encourage people to take action against left-wing groups and Muslims. Photos and videos of various sites were also recovered.
What is Galea's defence?
The 35-year-old held that the 'Patriot's Cookbook' wasn't to recruit others, but was meant to be a 'satire'. "I intended it to be taken as a joke. People reading it were to think they were reading comedy," he said. The prosecutors said that Galea used the internet to research the ingredients and methods required to make smoke bombs and that he had tried to recruit others to assist in the plot.
Responding to this, he described himself as a "self-made engineer" and the chemicals and materials recovered from his residence were part of his interest in science. In one such experiment, an explosion damaged the fuse box of his home, the court heard.
Galea said that he planned to make smoke bombs only to disperse Antifa members, who disrupted Reclaim Australia rallies during 2014 and 2015. Antifa, from 'Anti-Fascist", is a loose collection of groups, networks and individuals who believe in active, aggressive opposition to far right-wing movements, while Reclaim Australia is a far-right Australian nationalist group, chiefly opposing Islam.
Galea was worried over Islamist terror attacks
In the court proceedings, Galea accepted that he was partly motivated by a fear of the establishment of Islamic housing estates in Australia, with Islamic schools and mosques, like in France, which was subjected to terrorist attacks. "Allowing this to happen in Melbourne would lead to these kinds of attacks here," he told the court but denied being a right-wing extremist.
He termed his conversations, both online and otherwise, with right-wing activists as 'fake' and held that he had crafted his conversation to root out a police informant he believed had infiltrated right-wing groups. "He was a mainstream patriot, he was not a terrorist," Galea's lawyer argued.
Meanwhile, both left-wing and Islamic groups have welcomed his conviction. A plea hearing has been scheduled for March 23 next year when the court will hear sentencing submissions.