While a former journalist is facing life in prison over planning a terrorist attack, his relationship with extremist hatred is well-documented.
A former journalist has been arrested and charged with planning a terrorist attack in Bundaberg.
James Waugh worked for local newspapers in the Canberra region and, in 2018, had access to the Federal Press Gallery at Parliament House. Waugh was also present when Scott Morrison toppled Malcolm Turnbull.
Waugh previously worked for several different news outlets, including the Queanbeyan Age and the Canberra Chronicle.
It’s been reported that Mr Waugh had entered a three-year good behaviour bond in May this year when the ACT Magistrate’s Court suspended a sentence of two years and six months over a series of online threats.
The threats, per the ABC, were made to members of a Canberra church over a period of several months.
Waugh threatened to behead Christians on his front lawn as retaliation for the Christchurch massacre. In January, Waugh’s threats extended to a woman who rejected him, demanding her address and telling her that she was “going to die”.
Waugh also noted that “I’ve bought a scimitar and intend to cut their heads off in my front yard as a reprisal.”
In May, the court heard Waugh identified as a white, nationalist Muslim who wanted to be known as a martyr. Magistrate Bernadette Boss said it was not a terrorist crime, rather a hate-based offence.
“It certainly has at its heart religious extremism, intolerance and hatred,” she said.
Search and seizure
Police searched Mr Waugh’s property earlier this month after he had allegedly threatened a member of the public.
They report seizing electronic devices and a notebook, alleging that the devices contain documents indicating a desire to undertake acts of violent extremism.
Police also allege he sought to undertake firearms training in preparation for a terrorism attack.
Mr Waugh was arrested after a Joint Counter Terrorism Team operation between the Queensland Police Service, Australian Federal Police and ASIO.
An AFP spokesperson says the arrest was made “to prevent a terrorist attack in Australia and to protect the community”.
Since 2001, Australia has passed more than 50 pieces of legislation in relation to counter-terrorism.
The Australian Council for Civil Liberties and Human Rights organisations have been very critical of these laws, and the impact they have on ordinary Australians.
Concerns also exist that the offences contained within the laws are very broad, which presents challenges for legal representatives of the accused. However, these concerns have been rejected by both the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) and the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS).
Mr Waugh’s family is steadfastly maintaining his innocence. His case is due back in court in the coming weeks.
Waugh did not apply for bail when he faced Brisbane arrest court on Saturday, according to Nine News. He is due to face court again in December on the terrorism charge that carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
Sonia Hickey contributed to this report.