Canada has added far-right groups active in Canada to its terror watch list for the first time.
The two groups, Blood and Honour and Combat 18, were added to the Government of Canada’s list of terrorist entities earlier this week. As first reported by Global News today, the decision was initially made public in the Canada Gazette, the Canadian government’s newspaper, and comes after the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) said in its annual report last week that the agency will be putting resources into “better understanding” the far-right.
The Canadian government describes Blood and Honour as an “international neo-Nazi network” and Combat 18 as the group's “armed branch” that has “carried out violent actions, including murders and bombings.” The description says that the linked groups have carried out attacks in North America and Europe, and points to the murder of two homeless men in 1998 and the 2012 firebombing of a building housing Romani familys in the Czech Republic.
These groups aren't just international, however—they are active in Canada. When a group is included on the terrorist entities list, the property of its members can be seized by the government, and it becomes “an offence to knowingly participate in or contribute to, directly or indirectly, any activity" of said group.
Blood and Honour was founded in the late 80s in the UK, and Combat 18 popped up in the UK a few years later, in the 90s. Currently, the website for Canada's chapter of Blood and Honour features a section dedicated to Combat 18.
According to the person who runs the Anti-Racist Canada blog, which has been chronicling the far-right for over a decade, the exact date of the groups' entry into Canada is unknown, but “it was certainly in Canada by the early to mid-1990s," they said. Blood and Honour's website says it officially become a national group in late 2010.
During the late-2000s and early 2010s, the group, led by Kyle McKee (a founder of the violent neo-Nazi group Aryan Guard) became known in Canada. McKee’s leadership of the group was the one of the reasons for Calgary’s reputation as the neo-Nazi epicentre of Canada in the 2010s and at the time he was referred to as the “micro-fuhrer” by police.
For several years, the group would take to the streets, put up pro-white flyers, fight with anti-racists, and attempt to intimidate minorities. More recently, the group's activity has tapered off.
While Blood and Honour and Combat 18's website hasn’t been updated in several years, there are still signs of life online. Affiliated members are still attempting to recruit Canadian members on Stormfront, a neo-Nazi forum, for example. One member was recruiting for its Calgary club and one user stated in a June 2019 post that a cell was starting to form in New Brunswick.
Dr. Ryan Scrivens, an incoming assistant professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University who specializes on the far-right in Canada, said that given the pushback CSIS historically gives on designating right-wing groups terror groups he was “surprised by this decision.”
“But the threat from the extreme right can no longer be downplayed or dismissed—especially the threat posed by violent groups such as Blood & Honour and Combat 18,” said Scrivens. ”This was an important decision—one that I very much support.”
Also placed on Canada's list of terrorist entities this week were three Islamic terror groups: the Fatemiyoun Division, Harakat al-Sabireen, and the Al-Ashtar Brigades. The list is comprised of 59 organizations entities total, including Al Qaida, Boko Haram, the Islamic State, and others.
The person who runs the Anti-Racist Canada blog said that he’s happy with the government’s decision to put Blood and Honour and Combat 18 on the list, but would like to see other militant far-right groups, like Three Percent Canada, added as well.
He added that while Blood and Honour are not as active as they were before, they’re still around.“Doesn’t matter how large or small the group is,” they said. “The individuals who are members, each have an incredible potential, perhaps [evan a] propensity, for violence.”
Follow Mack Lamoureux on Twitter.