Canada’s government added more American neo-Nazis to its list of banned terrorist groups on Friday, another sign that the country is going further than the United States in recognizing such white supremacist extremists as a threat.
The additions follow Canada’s appointment of the Proud Boys and other US-based far-right groups as terrorists in February.
The newly forbidden groups include:
- The Three Percenters, an American anti-government militant group with a growing presence in Canada. The group’s name comes from the dubious historical claim that only 3% of American colonists fought the British in the War of Independence, according to the Anti-Defamation League. At least six members of the group were charged in the January 6 attack on the US Capitol. Citing materials given to reporters at a press conference, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation said the Canadian government mentioned the role of two members in the conspiracy to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer last year.
- James Mason, a Colorado-based neo-Nazi who campaigned for individual actor attacks against the US government to fuel a white revolution. Mason has also given tactical instruction on how to lead terrorist groups and is the author of a 1980s handbook popular with extremists around the world. The Canadian government also pointed to Mason’s ties to the violent neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division, whose members have been linked to multiple murders.
- The Aryan Strikeforce, a UK-based white racist group with chapters in Canada and the US, campaigning for violence to overthrow governments and start a racial war.
- An ISIS member based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Bill Blair, Canada’s Minister for Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, said in a statement the designations are an important tool to help authorities keep up with evolving threats and global trends.
“Recent events should remove any doubt about the serious threat posed by ideologically motivated violent extremism,” Blair said. “Intolerance and hatred have no place in our society and the Canadian government will continue to do everything possible to protect Canadians from all threats, including terrorism and violent extremism.”
Designating a group or individual as a “terrorist entity” under Canadian federal law makes it illegal for people to join and work with groups. It also gives the government the power to freeze the assets of those involved in the groups and charge anyone who supports them financially or materially. It can also make it easier for authorities to remove online content from banned extremists.
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After the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Canada declared four far-right or white supremacist groups as terrorist units, which was the first time it had listed such groups. These included the nuclear weapons division, the neo-fascist street fighting group The Proud Boys, the white-supermacist acceleration group The Base and the far-right nationalist Russian Imperial Movement. About two dozen people connected to the Proud Boys were indicted in the FBI’s investigation into the January 6th attack on the Capitol.
President Joe Biden and has said that violent extremists of white supremacy are the most pressing threat to the US today, calling it a “stain on America’s soul”. Earlier this month, the White House released a plan to fight domestic terrorism that calls for analysts, prosecutors and agents to be recruited, but does not propose new laws to help.
The lack of specific laws outlining domestic terrorism is one of the reasons the US hasn’t gone as far as Canada to label US and foreign extremist groups as terrorist entities. On the other hand, the bar for such a designation is extremely high. The US has only designated one far-right group, the Russian Imperialist Movement, as a terrorist group.
Speaking on a call with BuzzFeed News and other reporters earlier this month, a senior Biden government official who spoke on the background said that discussions of new national terrorism laws were ongoing and that no decisions had been made prior to the release of the White House’s new plan be.
“We came to the conclusion that we do not yet have the evidence to decide whether we want to move in this direction or whether we have sufficient powers as they currently exist at the federal level,” said the official.