Canada’s government on Friday added more American neo-Nazis to its list of banned terrorist groups, yet another sign that the country is going further than the United States when it comes to recognizing such white supremacist extremists as threats.
The additions follow Canada’s designation of the Proud Boys and other US-based far-right extremist groups as terrorists in February.
The newly prohibited groups include:
- The Three Percenters, an American anti-government militant group with a growing presence in Canada. The group’s name, according to the Anti-Defamation League, stems from the dubious historical claim that only 3% of American colonists fought against the British in the Revolutionary War. At least six members of the group have been charged in the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol. Citing materials given to reporters at a press conference, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation said the Canadian government referenced the roles of two members in the plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last year.
- James Mason, a Colorado-based neo-Nazi who has advocated for lone actor attacks against the US government to foment a white revolution. Mason has also shared tactical instruction on how to run terrorist groups and is the author of a 1980s manual that is popular among extremists across the world. The Canadian government also noted Mason’s ties to the violent neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division, whose members have been linked to several killings.
- The Aryan Strikeforce, a UK-based white supremacist group with chapters in Canada and the US that advocates for violence to overthrow governments and start a race war.
- An ISIS affiliate based in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Bill Blair, Canada’s minister of public safety and emergency preparedness, said in a statement the designations are an important tool to help authorities keep pace with evolving threats and global trends.
“Recent events should remove any doubts about the serious threat posed by ideologically-motivated violent extremism,” Blair said. “Intolerance and hate have no place in our society and the Government of Canada will continue to do all we can to keep Canadians safe 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 collaborate with the groups. It also grants the government the power to freeze the assets of people involved with the groups and charge anyone who financially or materially supports them. It can also make it easier for authorities to get online content posted by the banned extremists removed.
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In the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol, Canada moved to declare four far-right or white supremacist groups as terrorist entities, marking the first time it had listed such groups. Those included Atomwaffen Division, the neo-fascist street fighting group the Proud Boys, the white supremacist accelerationist outfit The Base, and the far-right nationalist Russian Imperial Movement. Roughly two dozen people associated with the Proud Boys have been charged in the FBI’s investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
President Joe Biden and has said white supremacist violent extremists pose the most urgent threat to the US today and called them a “stain on the soul of America.” Earlier this month, the White House released a plan to combat domestic terrorism, which calls for beefing up analysts, prosecutors, and agents, but stops short of suggesting any new laws should be created to help.
The absence of specific laws outlining domestic terrorism is one reason the US hasn’t gone as far as Canada in designating US and foreign extremist groups as terrorist entities. Another is that the bar for such a designation is extremely high. The US has designated just one far-right extremist group, the Russian Imperialist Movement, as a terrorist group.
On a call with BuzzFeed News and other reporters earlier this month, a senior Biden administration official, speaking on background, said discussions regarding any new domestic terrorism laws were ongoing and no decisions had been made before the release of the White House’s new plan.
“We concluded that we didn't have the evidentiary basis, yet, to decide whether we wanted to proceed in that direction or whether we have sufficient authority as it currently exists at the federal level,” the official said.