Pro-Israel ‘surveillance’ group turning attention to Australia, leaked posts show

A pro-Israel “surveillance network” that has offered bounties for information on pro-Palestinian protesters is establishing a foothold in Australia and claims to have secured meetings with key federal politicians, leaked messages show.

Shirion Collective, which has largely focused on the US and UK, boasts of its ability to scrape digital fingerprints to “aggressively track and expose antisemites”. It is one of a number of groups that have gained prominence on social media during the Israel-Gaza war, publicly naming individuals it accuses of being antisemitic.

Shirion Collective claims it has an AI tool called Maccabee which can identify and track targets.

In one post on X, Shirion outlines a scenario in which the tool creates and releases deepfake videos – falsified content that looks and sounds genuine – to embarrass individuals who take down posters picturing Israeli hostages.

On its X account, Shirion Collective has claimed to offer bounties of US$500 for information on people in videos. In a December post it claimed it would pay up to US$15,000 for “crucial insights” about politicians, US$7,500 for medical doctors and US$250 for students.

Leaked screenshots of Shirion’s Telegram channel, shared with Guardian Australia by the White Rose Society, an anti-fascist research group, show Shirion has become active in Australia, with participants identifying potential targets and boasting of attempts to meet the home affairs minister, Clare O’Neil, and the shadow home affairs minister, James Paterson.

Anonymised Shirion members discussed presenting O’Neil and Paterson with a list of names to ensure they were “brought to justice according to the rule of law”.

“Need help. We managed to get into home affairs calendar, need to come prepared with people with hate speech and names that the government didn’t held [sic] accountable,” one anonymous user said.

“Meeting with Clair [sic] or her stuff [sic] … we also have a meeting with the shadow minister.”

Both O’Neil and Paterson’s offices said they had not met anyone who identified themselves as part of Shirion Collective.

The leaked texts show people on the Shirion channel discussed adding the names of individuals to a “watch list” and mass reporting posts on social media.

Some Australians whose social media accounts were linked in the channel had shared antisemitic, racist and conspiracy theory content on social media. Others were pro-Palestinian activists who do not appear to have posted or shared antisemitic content.

When contacted via its social media accounts, a Shirion member describing themself as the “social media guy” said the “Ai is a quiet project with an internal team”.

The Shirion member said “bounties were for info and was in the USA not Australia”. The member said Shirion’s Telegram channel was open.

“The telegram [sic] is open and we do a soft verification that people are real. But freedom of speech is welcome there,” the Shirion member said.

The member said they would refer Guardian Australia’s questions to a “commander” but no further response was received.

Shirion Collective is one of several groups that say they track and fight antisemitism, largely through identifying individuals online.

Canary Mission, which has been operating since at least 2015, maintains lists of students, professors and other individuals on its website who it claims “promote hatred of the USA, Israel and Jews”. Another prominent account on X, StopAntisemitism, shares the names and employers or academic institutions of individuals, and often directs its more than 298,000 followers where to make complaints.

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The independent US Jewish publication Forward has reported in detail on allegations Canary Mission is creating a culture of fear on American university campuses and intimidating activists. Canary Mission profiles neo-Nazi and far-right organisations, but also lists anti-Zionist Jewish organisations such as Jewish Voice for Peace on its site.

The leaked posts from the Shirion Collective Telegram channel point to some publicly available material its contributors regard as antisemitic, but also discuss creating “infiltrator” accounts to view and share material from private Instagram accounts.

In the leaked posts seen by Guardian Australia, contributors do not reveal personally identifiable information about any individual that is not publicly available.

The Shirion Collective account on X/Twitter has identified people it alleges have posted antisemitic material, or statements in support of Hamas, and tagged in their employer or academic institution in the case of students.

Naming someone online is not necessarily illegal, but Michael Bradley, a managing partner at Marque Lawyers, warned there were potential implications depending on the nature of the claims, such as harassment and intimidation or even racial vilification.

“Using social media as a mechanism for coalescing groups that want to engage in doxing activity, it’s obviously extremely powerful,” he said.

Last month, a Sydney resident named Theo had a picture of his house and his street address posted to a Facebook group.

Theo, who asked that his surname not be used, had raised a Palestinian flag and placed a blackboard with messages critical of Israel in front of his Botany home.

Less than two weeks later, a ​​jerry can with rags stuffed into it, a disposable lighter and large bolts were placed on the bonnet of his car with a message that read: “Enough! Take down flag! One chance!!!!”

The incident prompted the deployment of the bomb squad and local police.

The investigation has not been transferred to the counter-terror investigators and remains with local police.

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