Former Canadian Forces Reserves soldier Patrik Mathews is being harboured in the U.S. by members of a violent neo-Nazi paramilitary group and has recently helped train other extremists at a "hate camp," according to a report from VICE.
Mathews appears to have participated in a paramilitary training event with roughly a dozen other members of the group in Georgia this fall, VICE reported Thursday, citing "confidential sources."
In August, the Free Press exposed Mathews as a recruiter for a neo-Nazi paramilitary group called The Base and as a trained combat engineer with a leadership position as a master corporal in the Canadian Army Reserves.
Shortly after being publicly identified, Mathews disappeared. His truck later turned up near the U.S.-Canada border, although his exact whereabouts remain unknown.
The Base — which extremist experts say represents the most violent, radical fringes of the far-right hate movement — is believed to have helped Mathews illegally cross the border. VICE reports it has evidence to suggest the group has been moving him around its network, keeping him hidden.
"The news illustrates how The Base, previously a mostly online collective of hardcore neo-Nazis, is evolving into a bona fide terror network with a recruitment structure, a paramilitary training apparatus and the capacity to covertly ferry members across international borders to fit its insurgent ambitions," VICE reports.
Evan Balgord, executive director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, said news Mathews fled to the U.S. to link up with neo-Nazi comrades speaks to the level of commitment he and the organization have towards their cause.
The Base seeks to establish small cells in as many regions as possible in order to carry out violent attacks aimed at fomenting a race war that will destabilize society and hasten the demise of the liberal-democratic order.
From the ashes of civil society, groups such as The Base — as well as its sister organization the Atomwaffen Division — hope to forge a white ethno-state.
"He ran the border to stay with this group. He continues to stay with them. He’s travelled to train them. Other members are helping him hide. That all speaks to their level of commitment. This isn’t a casual association for any of them. They aren’t joking around," Balgord said.
"He’s taking the training he got in the Canadian Armed Forces and he’s giving it to other neo-Nazis who want to use that training to carry out terror attacks. By proxy, these people now have Canadian Armed Forces training."
"He ran the border to stay with this group. He continues to stay with them. He’s travelled to train them. Other members are helping him hide. That all speaks to their level of commitment. This isn’t a casual association for any of them. They aren’t joking around" – Evan Balgord, executive director of the Canadian Anti–Hate Network
Mathews was exposed as a violent extremist after a Free Press reporter went undercover and successfully infiltrated the group after passing through a multi-tiered vetting process.
While posing as a white nationalist, the reporter documented internal group discussions where members — including Mathews — praised convicted terrorists as "the saints" and called for mass shootings with high casualty counts.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations arrested a member of The Base last month in the U.S. after he’s alleged to have plotted a national vandalism campaign targeting synagogues.
The Atomwaffen Division has been linked to five racially-motivated murders and has been accused of planning to blow up synagogues and nuclear power plants.
The FBI declined comment when asked if it’s investigating Mathews’ presence in the U.S.
The RCMP said Mathews remains the subject of an active missing-person case, but declined further comment. The Mounties' national security unit was previously probing Mathews’ extremist activity, although it's unclear if the investigation is ongoing.
Mathews was formally released from his Canadian Forces duties after he was exposed as a violent extremist. A source told the Free Press the Department of National Defence continues to investigate him.
"We cannot discuss the details of this or any specific investigation," a DND spokeswoman said.
A source who tracks far-right extremism says in the aftermath of the Free Press exposé that identified Mathews, there was a downturn in social media activity associated with The Base.
However, in recent days, that’s changed. The source pointed to two newly created channels on social media devoted to propaganda for The Base — one created in early November, the other on Wednesday.
The group posted a video to an encrypted social media platform this week showing clips from paramilitary training events. In the video, masked men can be seen engaging in military-style training exercises and firing semi-automatic weapons.
At the end of the video, the photographs of five journalists — including the Free Press reporter who exposed Mathews — flash quickly on screen.
"With groups in the neo-Nazi terrorist scene, the flashing photos—and they’re often of journalists—is their way of sharing kill lists. By putting those journalists on kill lists, it is meant as an intimidation tactic against those who cover them," Balgord said.
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.
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Updated on Thursday, December 5, 2019 at 7:09 PM CST: Fixes typo.