Cameron Brodie-Hall trial exposes online neo-Nazi culture

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A trial into a South Australian neo Nazi has exposed how easy it is for Australians to access extremist ideas promoting race hatred and a white supremacist revolution.

Cameron Brodie-Hall, the alleged leader of the SA Men’s Health Club, a front group for the fascist National Socialist Network, is contesting charges he possessed extremist material and material that could be of practical use for a terrorist act.

On the second day of his trial at Adelaide District Court, the court was told how radical groups such as the National Socialist Network pump out race-based propaganda on “open-source” social media channels such as Telegram.

A police officer with the state’s counter-terrorism section told Judge Paul Muscat the group broadcast Nazi ideology on the channel and anyone with a smartphone could download the app and begin consuming the brutal and anti-democratic ideas.

AFP Joint Counter Terrorism Team Detective Scott Dawson, who led the investigation into Mr Bodie-Hall and his flatmates Jackson Trevor Pay and Duncan Robert Cromb, said the goal of the National Socialist Network was to “preserve the white Aryan race” and the group believed Jews, homosexuals, feminists and non-Europeans were “the enemy”.

“Anyone that doesn’t fit in those categories becomes a race traitor,” he said.

He said the fascist group, led by convicted criminal Thomas Sewell, had cells across Australia and had been in South Australia since at least 2017 with predecessor groups such as the European Australian Society and the Lads Society.

In 2019, the Lads Society changed its name to the National Socialist Network, the court heard.

Prosecutor Martin Hinton QC played an interview between Mr Brodie-Hall and Detective Dawson following a police raid on the unit on April 7, 2021, where Mr Brodie-Hall admitted he subscribed to a Nazi world view but denied possessing extremist material.

“I associate with other people that have the same world view as me,” he said.

“Preserving White Australia as a separate group of people.”

Mr Brodie-Hall also claimed to support a “nonviolent” approach to national socialism, despite the ideology’s history of mass extermination campaigns.

“I think peaceful community building is a lot more productive,” he told Detective Dawson.

The police raid uncovered a large Nazi flag draped over a communal bookshelf.

Mr Brodie-Hall said the Swastika symbol represented his “people”, or white Europeans, and acknowledged he owned a copy of Mein Kampf, the manifesto of German dictator Adolf Hitler.

Mein Kampf is not illegal in Australia.

The interview also revealed the police had seized firearms and a gun safe from the unit, though it is not alleged the firearms belonged to Mr Brodie-Hall.

The charges against him relate to two books uncovered by the police in the unit’s communal bookshelf.

One of the books recommends four methods of covert direct action to help spark a Nazi revolution, including assassinations, terror bombings, the sabotage of infrastructure and terror campaigns directed at “the enemy”.

The book was seized in the April 2021 raid.

Prosecutor Hinton, speaking on the first day of the trial on Tuesday, said when the police returned to Mr Brodie-Hall’s unit in February 2022 they discovered another book listed as extremist material.

“It promotes or supports terrorist acts,” Prosecutor Hinton said.

Prosecutor Hinton said the book praised American Timothy McVeigh, the terrorist who murdered 168 people in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing in the United States, and argued “revolution” was the only way for Nazis to gain power.

Craig Caldicott, appearing for Mr Brodie-Hall, said on Tuesday there was no dispute about his client’s ideology, but rather over the issue of possession of the material, which he said was not found in his client’s bedroom.

Mr Caldicott said his client was not aware of the book promoting covert terror tactics being in the bookcase.

Judge Muscat said the case would depend on whether the prosecution could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr Brodie-Hall possessed the material either exclusively or jointly with Mr Pay and Mr Cromb.

Mr Pay and Mr Cromb have both pleaded guilty to possessing extremist material.

The judge-only trial will continue into the week.