Right-wing extremists added to Canadian watch list for the first time
Far-right terror groups linked to international violence have been added to the federal government’s watch list for the first time.
Neo-Nazi group Blood and Honour, with its armed branch Combat 18, were officially added to Canada’s list of terrorist entities last Friday following investigations by the RCMP and CSIS.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the groups operate abroad but also have a presence in Canada. Now, anyone conducting activities related to the organizations could be breaking Canadian law and their assets could be seized.
“They are dangerous. They put Canadian lives at risk. And the Criminal Code provisions will help to curtail their activities in Canada and keep Canadians safe,” Goodale told CTV’s Power Play on Wednesday.
Blood and Honour was founded in the U.K. in 1987 and its members have carried out attacks in North America and Europe, Public Safety Canada said. In January 2012, four members in Tampa, Fla., were convicted of the 1998 murder of two homeless men who were killed because the group considered them “inferior,” the government states online.
Goodale also cited the fatal shooting of German politician Walter Lübcke earlier this month. Police have arrested one suspect, who they say was involved in the neo-Nazi group.
Goodale said confronting far-right terrorism is especially important in the aftermath of the Christchurch shooting, in which 51 people were killed at two mosques in March.
“The world has to tackle this in the spirit of the Christchurch calls so that we’re all working in concert together,” he said.
Ottawa is taking further steps to crack down on the groups’ online activity by working with tech companies who may inadvertently be helping connect individuals linked to the extremist groups.
“We’re also conducting research activities to know more about who these people are and what kind of activities they’re engaged in,” Goodale said.
“How, in particular, are young people vulnerable to this kind of insidious propaganda? How do we make sure it’s taken down as rapidly as possible? Or ever, better still, prevent it from going up in the first place.”
Most of those tech companies are based in the U.S., and Goodale said he’s been in touch with Acting U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan about the issue.
But experts say it’s impossible to crack down on every dark corner of the internet.
“It’s easier to meet people with similar views to you. You might have felt isolated, like your views were marginal before. Then you go online and find people who hold the same belief,” Elizabeth Dubois, a communications professor with the University of Ottawa, told CTV News.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to address the threat of far-right terrorism at the G20 meeting in Japan later this week.
Middle East extremists were also added to the list of nearly 60 entities.
Shia militant group Al-Ashtar Brigades, which the Canadian government says is supported by Iran and aims to overthrow Bahrain’s Sunni monarchy, was also added.
AAB, established in 2013, has claimed responsibility for several bombings targeting security forces, including a March 2014 improvised explosive device attack, which killed three policemen and injured several others.
A third organization, Harakat al-Sabireen, which calls for the destruction of Israel, was also added.
The Iranian-backed Shia group has operated in the Gaza Strip since 2014, the Canadian government said.
HaS has fired rockets into Israel, including during the summer of 2014, and targeted Israeli army patrols using explosive devices.
With files from The Canadian Press