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Aussie police step up hunt for extremists

By TOM ANDERSON

SYDNEY, May 5 -- Australian police have mounted a massive search for two civilian Defense Department employees with links to a heavily armed, extreme right-wing group, police said Friday. Police want to question the two men as part of an investigation into alleged firearm offenses. The search follows a seven month investigation into five Defense Department employees who are members of a right-wing fundamentalist Christian group, The Loyal Regiment of Australian Guardians. One of the five, Darren Edward Couchman 25, pleaded guilty in a Canberra Magistrates court, Wednesday, to possessing unlicensed firearms and was fined $1,900. On Thursday, the police displayed the six unlicensed rifles and a crossbow that he had pleaded guilty of possessing. On display were two Chinese made SKS semi-automatic guns, two Chinese made Maegun rifles, a .303 rifle with telescopic sights and a .22 rifle plus 20,000 rounds of ammunition. A spokesman for the Australian Security Intelligence Organization said the agency had played a major role in keeping the group under surveillance during the investigation. 'We have been significantly involved in the investigation relating to the defense employees but we are unable to make any further comments, ' he said. Reports say the group could have up to 100 members, but there is no evidence that it has selected any targets for attack. Literature found during the investigation shows that The Loyal Regiment of Australian Guardians is anti-government, anti-United Nations, anti-New World Order and opposed to taxation. A 1992 booklet 'Fair Dinkum' circulated by the group, argues that taxes are imposed on the majority of Australians illegally.

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The booklet said political parties operate as private organizations outside proper public controls. 'The system crushes personal independance, a totalitarian feature, not a democratic one,' the publication said. Analysts said Friday, members of the group follow a doctrine of death, destruction and the right to bear arms. The group was formed three or four years ago and actively recruited within the ranks of the Australian Defense Force Academy, a police spokesman said. He also said the group has conducted a number of 'training camps' in bushland north of Sydney.

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