The RCMP have charged two Ontario men with “knowingly” participating in an international neo-Nazi group listed as a terrorist organization by the Canadian government.
The two men – who were not named by the RCMP’s Ontario national security division – are accused of creating terrorist propaganda and recruiting videos for Atomwaffen Division, a neo-Nazi group founded in the United States in 2013 and has spread internationally.
Court documents obtained by Global News list the accused as Matthew Albert Althorpe of Thorold and Kristopher Erik Nippak of East York. The RCMP’s Ontario Division confirmed the men’s names Friday afternoon.
The RCMP said the two men are accused of participating in the creation of manifestos for the “Terrorgram Collective” – a loose association of far-right extremists that organize using encrypted messaging facilitated by the Telegram app.
According to court documents, the 18-month investigation followed Althorpe and Nippak from locations in both Québec and Ontario, and covered alleged offences dating back to April 2018.
Both men are accused of knowingly participating in the activities of a terrorist group, while Althorpe faces a number of other charges including three counts of hate crime offences, facilitating terrorist activity, and instructing a person to carry out a terrorist activity, among other charges.
Atomwaffen Division was listed as a terrorist group by the Canadian government in early 2021. The international neo-Nazi group was founded in 2013 in the U.S., and has since expanded to the U.K., Canada and Germany, according to the Canadian government.
“The group calls for acts of violence against racial, religious, and ethnic groups, and informants, police, and bureaucrats, to prompt the collapse of society,” according to Public Safety Canada. “AWD has previously help training camps, also known as hate camps, where its members receive weapons and hand-to-hand combat training.”
Global News reached Althorpe on Friday afternoon. Asked if he was the man accused of terrorism charges, Althorpe responded “yes.” Asked if he would discuss the case, the man said “no” and hung up. Subsequent phone calls and text messages were not immediately returned.
Far-right groups have increasingly come under the scrutiny of law enforcement and intelligence agencies in Canada, and the Liberal government listed several far-right movements as terrorist organizations in 2021. That included Atomwaffen Division, as well as the Proud Boys – a prominent group of far-right protesters who played a key role in the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol.
David Hofman, the director of the University of New Brunswick’s Criminology and Criminal Justice Program, told Global News that the charges are an example of the increased attention being paid to far-right groups in Canada.
“The fact that these groups were put onto the terror watch list was an amazing first step, which allowed the police to finally have some bite in order to combat some of these groups,” Hofman said in an interview.
According to the RCMP, after Ottawa listed Atomwaffen as a terrorist group, many “former” members joined what’s known as Active Club.
Active Clubs have sprouted up across Canada in recent years, mixing fitness training with far-right ideology. The RCMP said members of Active Clubs have “been observed performing combat training exercises in local community parks,” and some have ties to more longstanding neo-Nazi groups like the Hammerskins street gang.
“Their way around getting on this terror watch list is, ‘oh, we’re no longer Atomwaffen, we’re Active Club Canada. Meanwhile, they continue doing what they’re doing and hoping that, you know, they can get out of this legal loophole with this rebranding,” Hofman said.
“So they haven’t ceased their activities.”
-With files from David Akin.