Australian Nationalist Movement: 1984 – 2007

A particularly putrid boil on the pockmarked arse of Australian politics was lanced last week when the West Australian District Court sentenced John van Blitterswyck, a prominent member of the Australian Nationalist Movement to two years’ jail for his part in a conspiracy to firebomb a number of Chinese restaurants. He was the final person to be convicted over the plot.

The ANM was founded in 1984 by Jack van Tongeren, a bloke who had some serious problems with Asians. Half-Indonesian himself, van Tongeren suffered a great deal of anti-Asian racism in his early years. Then he went to Vietnam. He returned, in the words of his father, “abnormal”, and got it into his head that there was a vast criminal Asian network operating in Australia. He also concluded that the Jews, for some reason, were complicit in the Asian plot to destroy the country. With the assistance of a motley crew of fellow travellers, he engaged in a number of burglaries to finance the ANM’s activities and in a firebombing campaign against the Chinese restaurants of Western Australia which he believed were fronts for an opium ring. He was eventually jailed in 1989 after one of his trusted associates, Russell Wiley, turned police informant.

Released in 2002, he surrounded himself with others who had been involved in the ’80s campaign (some also recently released from jail) and quickly got back to the business of re-establishing the ANM. A two-pronged guerrilla-marketing campaign was planned. Lower-level members would advertise his new book, The ANM Story, through graffiti and postering, while the top brass would burn down a number of Asian restaurants. It was hoped that sales of the book would raise a substantial sum of money, while the firebombings would increase van Tongeren’s notoriety. This combination would make van Tongeren’s election to the Senate inevitable.

Unfortunately, the graffiti artists got a bit carried away (vandalising a synagogue with video surveillance and a war widow retirement village) and were all arrested. During the course of their prosecution, one of them rolled over and spilt the beans on the firebombing plot. Ironically, the informant this time was Daniel

 Klavins, the ANM security officer. Klavins was known as Toecutter because he would obsessively watch the documentary Nazi Supergrass and fantasise about cutting off Russell Wiley’s toes with boltcutters every time he came on screen.

Co-conspirator Matthew Billing was sentenced to four years’ jail. Daniel Klavins was given a two-year suspended sentence after he confessed — he has reportedly turned his back on racism. Ian “Monty” Johnson pulled out of the plot when Klavins became involved. He testified against the others and received no sentence. He admitted in court that he remained a white supremacist. Van Tongeren was given a two-year suspended sentence last year (plus time served since 2004 awaiting trial) on the condition that he would leave Western Australia within the week. He stayed with family in Inverloch, Victoria, for a short while before moving to New South Wales. He intends to settle down in rural south-west New South Wales.

The status of the ANM is irrevocably connected to the will of van Tongeren. While he still has enough influence within the far-right to “make things happen”, he now seems to have no desire to exercise that influence. Almost every member of the ANM is dead or in jail. Those who aren’t are constantly haunted by their notoriety and find employment a difficult thing to attain. The ANM is dead. Other neo-Nazi groups will come and go, but few will be able to inspire the same level of terror as the ANM.