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This article was published 29/10/2020 (325 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
In the days after military reservist Patrik Mathews was revealed to be a recruiter for a white supremacist paramilitary group, Canadian neo-Nazis discussed ways they could help him flee the country.
The disclosure comes from leaked audio recordings from within the Base, the violent neo-Nazi organization the Free Press exposed Mathews as a member of in August 2019, following an undercover investigation.
Transcripts from those recordings obtained by the U.S. non-profit Southern Poverty Law Center — which form the backbone of a new podcast (titled: Sounds Like Hate) from the legal advocacy and civil rights organization — were shared with the Free Press.
In them, an unidentified man known only as "Dakov" — who claimed to be scheduled to undergo basic training in the Canadian Armed Forces in 2020 — says he and other neo-Nazis co-ordinated last year in an effort to offer material support to the disgraced Manitoba reservist.
"I was kind of involved in that. I was supposed to go there with them… but, you know, logistics and stuff, renting cars. I’m still glad he was able to get out, even without our help," Dakov said in the leaked audio.
Dakov said he lived in Ottawa, and was affiliated with other neo-Nazi organizations, including Atomwaffen Division and its Canadian offshoot Northern Order. He was subsequently named a member of the Base, as well.
Since its founding in 2015, Atomwaffen Division has been linked to at least five homicides and plots to attack nuclear power plants and synagogues.
Dakov said he first got interested in neo-Nazism as a teenager. At some point, he reached out to the U.S.-based Atomwaffen Division, where one of his contacts in the group was reportedly Samuel Woodward.
Woodward is awaiting trial for the killing of Blaze Bernstein, an openly gay, 19-year-old Jewish man, in a California park in January 2018. Bernstein had been stabbed 20 times.
The Canadian Forces have launched an internal probe into whether Dakov is indeed a member of the military, according to an Oct. 22 report from the Toronto Star.
In an interview with the Star, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan had the following message for extremists in the military ranks: "One thing I can assure you: we will find you, and you will be dealt with."
According to the leaked audio, Dakov said he identified two other neo-Nazis that lived within a few hours’ drive of his home in Ottawa who were interested in joining the Base. One of them, he said, had discussed the possibility of getting a restricted gun licence for legal access to military-style rifles.
Other details Dakov revealed included he spent two years studying physics in university, had previous experience working on planes, and was a musician who released songs on the website Soundcloud.
In a separate recording, another prospective member of the Base said he lived "in an apartment in Saskatchewan" — which indicates Dakov wasn’t the only Canadian who sought to join the violent paramilitary group after Mathews was exposed.
After being publicly identified as a neo-Nazi and member of the military by the Free Press, the Beausejour resident fled to the United States, where he linked up with other members of the Base.
Mathews was arrested Jan. 16 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is awaiting trial on multiple firearm charges.
If convicted on all counts, Mathews faces the prospect of decades behind bars in U.S. federal prison.
On Oct. 20, the Ottawa Citizen reported the Department of National Defence was planning in the summer of 2019 a PR campaign to push back against what it felt were false claims from activists that the military had a problem with extremists in its ranks.
Those plans were squashed following a series of high-profile incidents, including the Mathews case. DND has reportedly earmarked $750,000 to hire outside researchers to conduct a long-term study into such behaviour in the Forces.
"I’m just so disgusted by these types of organizations that are trying to use the CAF... We’re coming up to Remembrance Day. The CAF has fought tyranny, has fought those types of organizations," Sajan recently told the Star. "That is what they don’t understand."
In addition to identifying his alleged links to the Canadian Forces, Dakov said he was a longtime member of Fascist Forge, an online far-right community. According to a study from U.K.-based think tank Strategic Dialogue, released in June, Canadians are heavily involved in the online far-right ecosystem.
The study found more than 6,600 channels — which included accounts, webpages and groups on various platforms — where Canadians were involved in the promotion of white supremacist, misogynistic or other hateful views.
Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.