A former Canadian soldier facing terrorism-related charges in the U.S. promised fellow members of a neo-Nazi terror group that he could train them at a secretive paramilitary camp in the U.S.
Patrik Mathews, 27, made the comments in a call with members of the Base, a recording of which was obtained by VICE News.
Mathews disappeared in August 2019 along the U.S.-Canada border near Minnesota only to reappear months later in handcuffs after a January 2020 FBI raid in Delaware. In the January phone call, Mathews is heard recounting how he could drill the group in military tactics at a paramilitary camp that was to be held in Michigan later that month.
“We want to go from point A, to point B [with] as much stealth as possible,” he said in the call. “And then when we're there, we strike like thunder. At least I see that being proper guerrilla operations.”
Mathews, arrested along with two other members of the Maryland cell of the Base, was allegedly plotting to shoot up a gun-rights rally in Virginia and derail trains—attacks meant to help incite a “Second Civil War”—before the FBI intervened.
Mathews has pleaded not guilty and his lawyer, Joseph Balter, filed a series of motions to quash evidence pointing to Mathews’ role in the plot. Balter did not respond to a request for comment from VICE News.
During the call, Mathews said he could lead a training program built around the models of guerilla warfare and “small unit tactics” common among jihadist organizations and insurgencies in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan. (In October 2019, at a separate paramilitary training camp held in Georgia, Mathews also allegedly trained members of the Base in military drills.)
“I know how to teach what I've been trained in,” said Mathews, who went under the pseudonyms "PunishedSnake" and "Dave" in the Base’s encrypted chat. “So what I figured out in terms of what I learned or somebody that looks like me, so to speak, learned from the military, that I believe can apply to guerrilla warfare is: recce (reconnaissance) patrols, maybe some section; like a fire and move type stuff. Aside from that, it's more just understanding how the military operates. And then from there, it's just […] patrolling, it's like how to use terrain so that you can be max stealth.”
At the time of the phone call in early January, Mathews had been in the U.S. illegally for nearly five months. One of his co-conspirators, Brian Lemley Jr., an American veteran of the war in Iraq who went by the alias "CantGoBack" while operating as a cell leader for the Base, harbored the Canadian in a series of safehouses in Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia, according to authorities. (In the same call, Lemley seemingly admits to hiding “Snake” and helping him freely move around inside the U.S.). Lemley, who is facing several federal charges of his own, did not respond to a request for comment sent through his attorney.
Mathews was a trained combat engineer and reservist in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), but was booted from the military once his ties to the Base came to light in the summer of 2019 following a report in the Winnipeg Free Press. According to court documents, after the RCMP, Canada’s federal police force, raided his home and seized multiple weapons, Mathews went on the lam and was covertly ferried across the border by members of the Base.
The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), which has well documented issue with the far-right joining its ranks, declined to comment on Mathews allegedly using his military taught skills to train other members of the Base.
The call also revealed some of the internal problems plaguing the Base at the time, including personal grudges that spilled over into death threats. Lemley and Mathews described ongoing issues with the Georgia cell leader, Luke Austin Lane, who went by "TMB" or "The Militant Buddhist" in the group’s encrypted chat room.
“He kind of urged a fatwa,” said Mathews. “If we say anything in particular, if I say anything that, oh, I don't know, he is going to use his extensive reach and God knows what he can do to, I don't know, [hurt] us with something.”
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Lemley mentions that prior to the Georgia training camp, he had contacted the group’s leader, Rinaldo Nazzaro, a New Jersey native and ex-Pentagon contractor now living in Russia (with possible links to the Kremlin, which he denies), about Lane’s instability. “So when we went down to the Georgia meet, I was telling [Nazzaro] ‘You know, like there's a huge problem.’”
The death threats against members of the Base were first revealed in an FBI affidavit against three Georgia members, including Lane, who were raided by the FBI days after the Maryland arrests, for a plot to assassinate a local antifascist activist and his wife. The operation to takedown Lane and the other cell members in Georgia, included an undercover agent who infiltrated the Base for close to five months.
The Base, along with the Atomwaffen Division—a parallel neo-Nazi organization with a similar terroristic mantra—has been the subject of a broader nationwide FBI counterterrorism operation resulting in the arrests of several accerlationist terror suspects, including another member of the Base in Wisconsin and Justen Watkins, 25 (whose alias was "AK"), the Michigan cell leader that was supposed to host the paramilitary camp Mathews spoke of.
Mathews is due to appear in court again in January.