The hunt is ongoing after a man decorated with a swastika used an improvised flamethrower to attack an Aboriginal woman and her daughter in Australia.
On Tuesday, police in Perth, Western Australia, released a composite image of a man showing the white Nazi symbol painted backwards on his face at the time of the attack.
The man was also caught by security cameras in the area who were dressed almost entirely in black, except for what appeared to be an oversized red neck tie adorned with several white swastikas.
At around 6:20 p.m. on Saturday in the southern Perth suburb of Gosnells, attackers approached the 40-year-old woman and her 15-year-old daughter, shouting racist abuse before using a can of deodorant and cigarette lighter to spray fire on them.
The woman suffered minor burns to her arm and the assailant escaped on foot.
Senior Detective Sgt Sean Bell, of the State Security Investigation Group, said police considered the attack to be racially motivated, and described the attack as “violent”.
Det Snr Sergeant Bell said the flamethrower attacks were “random and cowardly”, targeting mothers and daughters who were “just doing everyday business”.
“The potential for serious injury is definitely there, lucky enough he’s not close enough to do that,” he said.
“Any assault on a mother and daughter who is just running a legitimate business by trying to get something to eat for dinner is a terrible act … If you add a racial element, that’s certainly not going to be tolerated by society and we treat it very, very serious .
Det Snr Sgt Bell added that all available resources had been allocated to tracking the man.
“Someone in the community knows who this person is and we ask members of that community to contact us and help identify this person,” he told a press conference on Tuesday.
Police say nothing at this stage has linked the man to a specific Neo Nazi gang or white supremacist group, but an investigation is ongoing.
The Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) warned in its 2019-2020 Annual Report that the 2019 Christchurch attack “continues to be used for inspiration by far-right extremists around the world”.
“These groups have also become ideological: more aware and committed to certain dogmas, philosophies and views… The Covid-19 pandemic has been used by right-wing and issue-motivated extremists to promote their views.
“They are trying to exploit social and economic dislocation; and their extremist ideology has spread more rapidly and widely as Australians spend more time online engaging with like-minded individuals.”
The report also states that in 2019-20, extreme right-wing individuals comprised about one-third of all ASIO counter-terrorism investigations subjects.
Perth is home to the notorious Australian Nationalist Movement, which burned down five family-owned businesses of Asian descent, and bombed other businesses, in 1988 and 1989.
In 1990, the ANM leader, using the blatant fascist image and slogan, Jack van Tongren, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for 53 offenses.
He was released in 2002, and in 2004 three Chinese restaurants were bombed in Perth, and fascist posters were affixed to synagogues and businesses owned by families of Asian descent.
Van Tongren received a two-year prison sentence in connection with this attack, suspended on the condition that he leave the state of Western Australia. The movement was disbanded in 2007.