Police have obtained an arrest warrant for Gabriel Sohier Chaput, a man who is alleged to be Zeiger, Canada’s most influential neo-Nazi and a key player in the alt-right.
According to the Montreal Gazette , court records show that police obtained the warrant at the end of October—the only count listed is willful promotion of hatred which can carry with it two years of jail time. The whereabouts of Sohier Chaput is currently unknown. His identity became known when anti-fascists supplied reporters with information connecting Sohier Chaput to the infamous neo-Nazi.
Zeiger has for years been one of the most influential voices within the far-right globally making key contributions to both the ideology and the ironically detached tone of the community. Keegan Hankes, a research analyst for the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project, told VICE Canada that it’s hard to overstate the influence Zeiger had within some of the most extreme circles of the far-right.
"He was definitely a big player," said Hankes. "He was one of the most recognizable names at the Daily Stormer, he also, of course, was a prolific content producer having a wealth of written and recorded materials that were very well respected."
Zeiger was an extremely active user and moderator on the now-defunct Iron March forum (which has been linked to a wave of white supremacist terror) and edited their online zine Noose. He also was instrumental in the resurgence of the ideas of James Mason—editing Siege, a collection of publications and newsletters by Mason that has been incredibly influential in the neo-Nazi scene. Siege encouraged lone-wolf acts of violence; Hankes described Siege as “very, very extreme texts” and added that "the fact he played a role in rehabilitating that and bringing it to a wide audience is very significant." He also authored several of his own books, one, “Hammer of the Patriot,” is well-read and respected in these circles.
In addition to all that, Zeiger is one of the key players in the Daily Stormer—the infamous online neo-Nazi outlet which worked as the trendsetter for the ironic and online brand of neo-Nazi we have all come to know. The Daily Stormer has intense notoriety and one of the larger readerships in the right—at the time of his outing Zeiger was the Daily Stormer’s second most prolific author.
In the end, Zeiger’s key contribution to the far-right was somehow moving them even further to extremes. Hankes explained to VICE that Zeiger worked as a “bridge” between little-known places like Iron March and the Daily Stormer, bringing “more obscure and extreme corners of the far-right to those with more of an audience.”
“He was the guy at the Daily Stormer who promoted Atomwaffen early on,” said Hankes. Atomwaffen is a neo-Nazi terrorist cell linked to five deaths in 2017. Atomwaffen was birthed on Iron March and many of those in the cell are obsessed with the philosophy of Siege and James Mason.
Within Montreal, where he lived for several years, Zeiger worked to organize the far-right, setting up meet-ups and reading groups. At what was dubbed Canada’s first alt-right meet up in 2017, he was one of the keynote speakers.
After an investigation by the Montreal Gazette corroborated anti-fascists’ evidence that Zeiger was Gabriel Sohier Chaput, groups protested and flyered his neighbourhood, making sure that everyone knew who the man was. Shortly thereafter Zeiger, joining his cohorts at the Daily Stormer (all of which are on the run or underground) went into hiding. Evan Balgord, executive director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, said that alongside disappearing himself, Zeiger’s once prolific output has slowed down. (Full disclosure: VICE Canada has collaborated with the Canadian Anti-Hate Network on previous investigations into the far right.)
“Since Zeiger's identity was found out he's gone quiet,” said Balgord. “I'm sure he's still active in some sense but in the grand scope of things he's certainly not as prolific as he's been.”
Ricochet spoke to one of the anti-fascist activists who supplied the information that brought Zeiger down. The activist told Ricochet that while they’re happy to see “Nazis in any kind of trouble,” they don’t know if police are taking the situation completely seriously and have asked why they aren’t going after other active neo-Nazis in the province.
“Why don't they investigate these guys, who are still very much active, rather than ride on our coattails six months after the fact?”
Balgord said that Section 319 (what the warrant is issued for) is rarely laid and only used in the “worst of the worst” situations. The section has been used to imprison people before including in 2007 when a man who ran a white supremacist site that paid tribute to the KKK and Timothy McVeigh was sentenced to six months and in 2013, a man who ran a racist YouTube channel got 11 months. Balgord told VICE that he believes the warrant sends a good message and he looks “forward to Zeiger being found and going to trial.”
"It's a good thing, overall. Zeiger was certainly one of the worst of the worst hate propagandists internationally and he was here in our own backyard in Canada spreading this hate," Balgord said. "There are other individuals in Canada that we know have been spreading hate propaganda not dissimilar from Zeiger and they have to be looking at this thinking, 'am I going to be charged?’
“The answer for some of them, I believe, will be yes.”
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