Two Canadians Who Police Link to Neo-Nazis Face Terrorism Charges

As of last month, there were 10 Active Club chapters across Canada, Peter Collins, a forensic psychiatrist with the Ontario Provincial Police and a professor at the University of Toronto, wrote in a recent edition of a law enforcement magazine.

Canada has seen a “significant increase” in the number of terrorism charges for people linked to far-right groups like the Atomwaffen Division, said Michael Nesbitt, a law professor at the University of Calgary who studies extremism. There have been seven terrorism arrests in the country this year, including three linked to right-wing extremism, according to his data, while only six cases since 2000 have been associated with right-wing extremism.

In July, the R.C.M.P. charged Patrick Gordon Macdonald of Ottawa, then 26, with participating in, facilitating and committing terrorist activity. According to the force, he was involved in the creation, production and distribution of three terrorist videos for the Atomwaffen Division. “This material was intended to promote the group and recruit members, and encourages the commission of terrorist activities,” it said at the time.

Early this year, federal law enforcement officials in the United States arrested Brandon Russell, a founding member of the Atomwaffen Division, and another man. They were accused of conspiring to “completely destroy Baltimore” in what officials described at the time as a racist plot to demolish the power grid in a predominantly Black city. Mr. Russell had been released from prison in the summer of 2021 after being convicted of bomb-making.

Last year Kaleb Cole, an Atomwaffen Division leader in Washington State, was sentenced to seven years in prison for plotting to threaten and intimidate journalists and others who worked to reveal antisemitism.

“It’s good to see that the R.C.M.P. and others are prosecuting a broader spectrum of extremist behavior,” Professor Nesbitt said. “The flip side of that, of course, is as a Canadian, it’s depressing and a little bit scary to see that we’re seeing this increase in charges overall for the year.”