Australian law enforcement has charged one man from Western Australia for impersonating a law enforcement officer as part of a plot to overthrow the Australian government, members of Parliament and replace the Australian federal police force.
On July 31, Australian Federal Police (AFP) executed six search warrants across three states to disrupt the group’s activities and collect evidence as part of a joint investigation with the Queensland Joint Counter Terrorism Team (JCTT) into a group of individuals who were allegedly impersonating government officials and holding anti-government sentiment.
Over 470 fake AFP badges were recovered and “arrest warrants” for several high-profile MPs and public servants. Raids were carried out around the country in the Queensland cities of Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville, Peterborough in South Australia, and two locations in Perth, Western Australia.
AFP Assistant Commissioner Counter Terrorism Scott Lee in a media statement on Aug. 2 said, “We have found no evidence this group has the ability—or has actually attempted—to carry out specific violent acts in support of statements made by members of this group.”
“The Queensland JCTT acted early in this instance to stop any potentially disturbing activities at the earliest possible stage, and we will not hesitate to lay further charges if more criminal offences are identified,” he said.
“The general public needs to know that a video purporting to be of the AFP Commissioner calling for people to join in a plan to create a new government is complete and utter nonsense—it is not from the Commissioner, it is not from the AFP and has absolutely no credibility. We continue to investigate those we believe are responsible for creating it,” Lee said.
AFP Acting Assistant Commissioner Andrew Donoghoe also downplayed the group’s threats saying: “We have no evidence that this group has the ability or capability to commit violent acts to overthrow the government.”
“The behaviour of these people is extremely concerning, and we are continuing our investigation to identify any criminal offences as a result,” he told reporters.
The 49-year-old man from Tuart Hill in Perth Western Australia is due to appear at the Perth Magistrates Court on Aug. 16.
Police allege he claimed to be an AFP official during an unsuccessful attempt to buy stamps and ID badges with the official agency’s logo.
The police further alleged that group members were responsible for a video circulating on social media—falsely claiming to be a recording of AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw—detailing anti-government sentiment while encouraging other individuals to join.
The man who made the recording was identified and was found to be meeting online with like-minded individuals across the country to discuss a takeover of the government.
Last week, three boxes of replica AFP badges were sent to a house in Cairns where one group member lived. These boxes were later dumped but were recovered.
The Perth man faces a maximum penalty of two years in jail if convicted. More charges are expected in the coming days.