A 19-year-old Canadian man accused of attacking a trans support centre has been charged for allegedly joining a violent neo-Nazi group that has been designated a terrorist group.
RCMP alleged that Seth Bertrand, of Windsor, Ontario, attempted to join the National Socialist Order, an offshoot of the infamous neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division. Atomwaffen has been connected to five murders since it was founded in 2017.
RCMP said that between February 12 and May 20, 2021, “an individual committed various hate-motivated offences in the Windsor area.”
“As a result of the investigation, RCMP INSET was able to determine that the individual filed an online application to join a listed terrorist entity, the Atomwaffen Division (also known as National Socialist Order), and offered his skills and commitment to do things for this listed terrorist entity,” reads a press release on the arrest.
Last April, Bertrand was charged with three counts of mischief for allegedly throwing a brake rotor through the windows of a Windsor trans support centre and tagging the walls with slurs and a swastika. Local media reports the attack on the centre occurred “sometime on Feb. 21 or 22.” He was also charged with vandalism for throwing a rock through the window of an LGBTQ couple who had a pride flag displayed. Attached to the rock was a note that said “Atomwaffen knows where you are.”
The Canadian Anti-Hate Network wrote that Bertrand’s “online footprint shows someone fixated on the military and who openly advertises his involvement in the "far-right and interest in groups like Atomwaffen.” Researchers also found Bertrand to be in connection with other far-right extremists, including one who was charged with plotting a mass murder.
Bertrand has been charged with participating in the activity of a terrorist group "for the purpose of enhancing the ability of any terrorist group to facilitate or carry out a terrorist activity." He faces a prison term of up to 10 years if found guilty.
There’s been a recent rash of neo-Nazi activity in the area where Bertrand was arrested. Earlier this year, a Telegram page was opened, advertising a new “Pro-White activist movement” that was recruiting neo-Nazis in the Windsor and surrounding area. The group’s actions appear to mostly have been pasting “White lives matter” or other neo-Nazi stickers to signs in the area.
“We are a new Pro-White activist movement in Canada,” the organizers wrote. “We are dedicated to preserving our people and way of life.”
Atomwaffen is a neo-Nazi accelerationist group whose main aim is to create chaos to accelerate the fall of society so they can build a white ethno-state from the ashes. The members, who are primarily young men, are recruited online into the violent community. The group aimed to create autonomous cells of neo-Nazis wreaking havoc on their local communities.
Atomwaffen was designated a terrorist organization by the Canadian government in February 2021. The group, and its many offshoots, have been the focus of an intense international crackdown by authorities which has seen multiple members be arrested and sentenced for a litany of crimes ranging from petty vandalism to murder. It’s much smaller and less popular than it was at its zenith several years ago, but it and its offshoots still exist and are active.
Internal chat communications seen by VICE World News show that there have been several Canadian members of Atomwaffen and similar groups over the past five years. Most notably, Patrik Mathews, a former Canadian Armed Force reservist, was found to be a member of The Base and went on the run after being exposed. He was arrested in the United States after an FBI operation found members of the group were plotting assassinations and mass murders. He was sentenced to nine years in prison.
This is the first time someone in Canada has been charged with terrorism offenses for joining a neo-Nazi accelerationist group.
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