Ottawa has labelled the neo-Nazi paramilitary group former Manitoba military reservist Patrik Mathews recruited for an official terrorist organization.
The Canadian Department of Public Safety designated 13 organizations, including the Base, Atomwaffen Division and the Proud Boys, as terror outfits Wednesday. Canada is the first country to classify the Proud Boys as such.
All 13 groups being added to the list are examples of "ideologically motivated violent extremists," the government said.
"It isn’t about their bias. It isn’t about their speech. It is about their violent extremism and their willingness to escalate and use violence in the furtherance of their aims and advancement of their ideologies," Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said.
In August 2019, the Free Press exposed Mathews, then a master corporal in the Canadian Army Reserves, as a neo-Nazi and member of the Base, following an undercover investigation.
Soon after, Mathews fled the country, illegally entering the United States, where he is alleged to have linked up with neo-Nazi comrades and begun plotting to commit a terror attack at a pro-Second Amendment rally in Richmond, Va.
On Jan. 16, 2020, Mathews was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He remains in custody pending trial for multiple firearm charges. If convicted, Mathews could serve decades behind bars in U.S. federal prison.
The Russian Imperial Movement, three Al-Qaeda affiliates, five Islamic State affiliates, and Hizbul Mujahideen were also added to Canada's official terrorist list.
The additions followed an "extremely rigorous probe" by Canada’s security and intelligence agencies, which found "reasonable grounds to believe (they had) knowingly participated in or facilitated a terrorist activity."
An official terror designation can have serious criminal and financial consequences. Banks are now capable of freezing assets of members, and anyone who financially or materially supports the groups can be charged by law enforcement.
"Those organizations, clearly are also, hateful organizations, motivated by intolerance and hatred. There is evidence they have engaged in some violent activity, as well," Blair said.
"I want to ensure Canadians that the work is ongoing. We continue to work with our allied partners, international security intelligence agencies, law enforcement, continue to gather evidence and intelligence."
The government said the organizations on the official terror list are subject to review every five years.
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