An American white supremacist group is claiming it has nothing to do with Wednesday’s bomb threat at Montreal’s Concordia University, even though their name was plastered all over the letter that targeted Muslim students.
In an interview with VICE News over Twitter, Hunter Wallace, a board member of the Council of Conservative Citizens denied the group has a Canadian chapter. “We have no idea who sent that letter. Whoever is doing it is acting on their own,” he said, adding that he first heard about the incident in media reports.
Three buildings at the university were evacuated on Wednesday after copies of a letter were sent to media outlets from the Council of Conservative Citizens of Canada threatening to “DETONATE once per day, a small artisanal amateur explosive devices … where Moslems (sic) hang out.” It further went on to say that with Donald Trump as President of the U.S., “things have changed.”
The letters were signed “C4 coordinator — Concordia University.” Wallace also denied this is a real position within his group. “I think there might be a few scattered members, but there isn’t an active chapter there. There certainly isn’t a Concordia University coordinator much less a terrorist group,” he said.
Montreal police did not find any explosives on campus, and the buildings have reopened. A 47-year-old man was charged with carrying out a hoax related to a terrorist activity on Thursday and has been ordered to undergo a psychological assessment. It’s unclear if the man, Hisham Saadi, has any connection to the university, according to CBC News.
The university has also beefed up its security and surveillance following the events.
The bomb scare came one month after a mass shooting at a mosque in Quebec City left six worshippers dead. A Quebec man who reportedly harbors anti-Muslim and right-wing ideologies is facing murder charges. Islamophobic incidents and other acts of hatred toward religious groups have been on the rise across Canada, particularly in the wake of the Trump election.
While Wallace claims his group, deemed the biggest white nationalist organization the U.S., does not encourage violence and instead encourages supporters to “get involved in politics,” the group was referenced in the manifesto of Dylann Roof, the man convicted of opening fire in a South Carolina church, killing nine black parishioners. The origins of the group go back to the White Citizens Council, a group which purported to be a more tolerable version of the Ku Klux Klan.
Wallace says the only known Canadian member of the Council of Conservative Citizens is Paul Fromm, one of Canada’s most notorious white supremacists who recently posted photos of himself with a small group protesting outside Liberal Member of Parliament Iqra Khalid’s constituency office. Khalid has been bombarded with death threats and hate messages over her motion calling on Parliament to condemn Islamophobia.
In a Facebook message to VICE news on Thursday, Paul Fromm also denied involvement in the bomb threats against Concordia University. “We have no Quebec chapter,” he said. “The sorts of threats made yesterday are illegal and counterproductive. They may well be a black op by some force trying to create sympathy for Mosles.”
Fromm did not immediately respond to a question clarifying whether “Mosles” means “Muslims.”
The Muslim Students’ Association at Concordia released a statement inviting all students to join their final event in their weeklong Islamic Awareness Week. The group also said it is “committed to promoting inclusive and welcoming spaces” and that “no faith community should have to live in fear about the safety and well-being of its community members.”