The government has, for the first time, placed right-wing extremist groups on its list of outlawed terrorist organizations, adding the names of Blood & Honour and Combat 18.
Announced in the government’s Canada Gazette, the action came after the Canadian Security Intelligence Service said in a report on Friday it had increased its “posture” on the far right.
Blood & Honour was described by the government as “an international neo-Nazi network whose ideology is derived from the National Socialist doctrine of Nazi Germany.”
Combat 18 is the armed branch of Blood & Honour and has conducted murders and bombings, the government said in the description of the group on the Public Safety Canada website.
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Canadian Anti-Hate Network chair Bernie Farber called the groups “extremely violent neo-Nazi organizations” and said he hoped other far right groups would be criminalized as well.
“I’m hoping this is just the beginning and that there will be more, but this is a really good first start for Canada,” he said.
Listing terrorist groups makes it easier to prosecute supporters and helps counter terrorism financing, according to the government.
Also placed on the terrorist list Wednesday were three Shia militant groups supported by Iran: the Al-Ashtar Brigades, Harakat al-Sabireen and the Fatemiyoun Division.
According to the government, the Al-Ashtar Brigades “aims to overthrow Bahrain’s Sunni monarchy.” Harakat al-Sabireen has operated in the Gaza Strip since 2014, the government said.
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Fatemiyoun Division is fighting in Syria and is “comprised mainly of Afghan refugees recruited from Iran and Afghanistan.” It is “directed by Iran’s Qods Force, which, along with Hizballah also provides support and training.”
The Iranian-backed Shia groups were designated as terrorist groups by Canada at a time of heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington following Iranian attacks on ships and the downing of a U.S. drone.
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But the addition of the first right-wing extremist groups to the terrorist list could have the biggest impact since Blood & Honour has a Canadian branch with a website.
“This was an obvious one, low-hanging fruit, if you will, because of their international reputation for extremism, for violence, for terrorist activity,” said Prof. Barbara Perry, who studies hate and extremism.
The suspect arrested over the June 2 killing of German pro-refugee politician Walter Lübcke was reportedly linked to Combat 18, which uses the slogan, “whatever it takes!”
Blood & Honour was founded in the United Kingdom in 1987 and “grew during the 1990s, establishing branches throughout Europe by the end of the decade,” the listing said.
“B&H attacks have occurred in North America and in several EU-member states. In January 2012, four B&H members in Tampa, Florida, were convicted of the 1998 murder of two homeless men who were killed because the group considered them ‘inferior.’”
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B&H and C18 members also firebombed a building occupied mostly by Romani families, including children, in Aš, Czech Republic in February 2012, according to the listing.
In its annual report released Friday, CSIS described right-wing extremism as “driven by hatred and fear” and comprising “a complex range of individuals, subcultures and online communities.”
“These individuals and groups cultivate grievances on issues as varied as gender, race, religion, sexual orientation and immigration,” the report said.
Social media had allowed the far right to spread its ideology and inspire attacks, it said.
“CSIS has increased its posture to gain a better understanding of the landscape in Canada, gain insight into the key players and assess the nature of the current threat environment.”