By Aidan Jonah, The Canada Files, May 12, 2021
On February 3, 2021, the Canadian terrorist entities list was updated with 13 further groups. The main focus was on far-right group, the Proud Boys. Twelve other groups, including the Atomwaffen Division and the Russian Imperial movement also were added onto the list.
The Proud Boys were a major force in the rally, and may have been planners of the January 6 Capitol Hill coup attempt.
Who are the Proud Boys?
Proud Boys is a self-described “western chauvinist” group, founded by Vice Co-Founder and Canadian national Gavin McInnes. McInnes left Vice in 2008 and proceeded to write books such as “How to Piss in Public,” while publishing articles in right wing outlets such as VDARE. His trend to the right was definitively confirmed when he founded the Proud Boys in the midst of the 2016 Presidential Election.
McInnes is an admitted sexist and Islamophobe, who has repeatedly “denigrated nonwhite cultures”. McInnes attempts to improve his reputation by occasionally repudiating racism and anti-Semitism, but the Southern Poverty Law Center said that he and other group leaders “spout white nationalist memes and maintain affiliations with known extremists”. The group also does not allow women at the group’s formal gatherings.
In 2017, member Jason Kessler played a crucial role in organizing the “Unite the Right” rally, which brought together “a broad coalition of extremists including Neo-Nazis, antisemites and militias.” At the rally these extremists united to chant “Jews will not replace us” while holding tiki torches alight in the air. Some even made Nazi salutes.
Over the next few years, the Proud Boys incited or participated in numerous clashes with anti-fascist groups in places such as New York, New Orleans and Berkley, California.
The Tyee relayed quotes picked out by former NBA player Rex Chapman detailing the group’s proclivity for violence. They included:
“We will kill you. That’s the Proud Boys in a nutshell.”
“We will assassinate you.”
“Don’t listen to what he has to say. Choke him.”
“Can you call for violence generally? Cause I am.”
“We need more violence from the Trump people. Trump supporters.”
“Get a fucking gun.”
They rose to prominence again in the 2020 Presidential election debates, when Donald Trump told the Proud Boys “to stand back and by,” in relation to moderator Chris Wallace asking Trump if he would condemn white supremacist groups. Group leaders took this as a directive from Trump to prepare to target anti-fascists (ANTFA) and commit acts of violence.
On January 6, 2021, as previously mentioned, the group took part in the Capitol Hill coup attempt and may have been involved in planning it. Capitol Hill police were severely understaffed (in the hundreds) compared to thousands of pro-Trump protesters assembled. They easily allowed the mob to enter the Capitol building, where the mob looked to find and potentially kill lawmakers who were willing to certify the results of the 2020 election, won by neo-liberal Democratic Party presidential candidate Joe Biden.
The Canadian campaign to ban the Proud Boys
Canada’s social democratic party, the New Democratic Party, had made the push for a ban on the Proud Boys a focus ever since. On January 12, the party officially launched the push to ban the group. On January 25, Canadian parliament passed NDP leader Jagmeet Singh’s motion to declare the Proud Boys a terrorist entity. Just over a week later, they were added to Canada’s terrorist entity list.
However, that terrorist list is extremely problematic in that it targets anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist groups across the globe, along with genuine terrorist entities such as the Islamic State (ISIS).
Origins of the Canadian terrorist entity list and how it was utilised
Even before the Canadian terrorist entity list was created, the Canadian government had a history of targeting anti-colonial groups. The African National Congress and its leader Nelson Mandela, fighting against apartheid in South Africa, were listed as terrorists by the American government since the 1980s, while ANC members were unable to travel to Canada until 2012.
Meanwhile, a Nicaraguan anti-communist terrorist group, the Contras, which was funded by the United States government, to overthrow the revolutionary socialist Sandinista government established in 1979, was never declared a terrorist organization, nor were its members listed as terrorists. Even though Canadian aid projects were attacked repeatedly, numerous Canadian Sandinista supporters murdered, including multiple priests, Canada never even referred to the Contras as terrorists.
Instead Conservative MPs supported the Anti-Bolshevik League, a fascist sympathizing anti-communist group which created Black Ribbon Day, in its efforts to fundraise for the Contras. Meanwhile Canadian corporations sold weapons and arms to the Contras.
The Canadian terrorist entity list was created on October 15, 2001 as part of Bill C-36 (Anti-terrorism act), "An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Official Secrets Act, the Canada Evidence Act, the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) Act and other Acts, and to enact measures respecting the registration of charities in order to combat terrorism." This was done after the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Towers, led by 15 Saudi nationals, who hijacked two airplanes and flew them into the towers, while another plane was crashed into the Pentagon. This was the beginning of Canada’s active contribution to the “War on Terror”.
On November 27, 2002, Hamas was the first group to be added to the terrorist entity list. Hamas was an a group which was founded during the First Palestinian Intifada, funded by the Israeli government as a counterweight to the Palestinian Liberation Organization. After being an important player in the Palestinian resistance during the first and second Intifadas, it won parliamentary elections in 2006.
On December 10, 2002, Hezbollah was added to the terrorist entity list. The BBC noted that the group was founded during the Israeli occupation of Lebanon in the early 1980s. FAIR explains that they were the main resisting force to the Israeli occupation of south Lebanon, ultimately succeeding “in driving Israel out of Lebanese territory in May 2000.” In 2006, Canada put sanctions on Lebanon, meant to target Hezbollah. This was likely in retaliation to the crucial role they placed in repelling the attempted Israeli invasion that year. As a result, they have gained, and continue to maintain support from many civil society groups. The aforementioned sanctions prevent the importation of spare parts for civilian equipment, medical machinery and pharmaceuticals, yet were not repealed or eased after the Beirut port explosion in August 2020.
On April 2, 2003, the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) was added to the terrorist entity list. FARC is a Marxist-Leninist peasant movement founded in the 1960s as a response to the Colombian civil war, whose goal was to overthrow a succession of US-backed governments. By 1998, they had grown in strength, to the point of controlling fourty percent of the territory making up the Colombian state. The right-wing governments chose to send in right-wing militias to attack FARC controlled villages, rather than attempt to match the social programs initiated by FARC. While peace accords between the Colombian government and FARC were signed in 2016, 254 former FARC fighters have been killed in cold blood as of January 18, 2021.
On November 23, 2003, the left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) was designated as a terrorist entity. The secular, and Marxist-Leninist PFLP was created by George Habash in 1967, after the illegal Israeli occupation of the Palestinian West Bank. It originally called for absolute liberation of Palestine from Israeli occupation, and refused to engage in “peace negotiations” with the Israeli government. It has continued to be a significant presence in Palestine, but has changed its goals. The BBC explained that the PLFP seeks “a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, the withdrawal of Israeli soldiers to the 1967 borders, the dismantling of Jewish settlements on occupied territory, and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.”
Under international law, people under illegal occupation have the right to resist the occupation by any means they see fit.
In 2012, Canada introduced a State Sponsors of Terrorism list, which immediately included Syria and Iran. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Qods Force was listed as a terrorist entity soon afterwards, and has not been removed, despite the crucial role it has played in resisting ISIS in the middle east. That same year, the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), which works with Mossad and the CIA to assassinate Iranian scientists and others, was removed from Canada’s terrorist entity list. Notably, the Iranian government has supported Palestinian armed resistance for decades, yet many supposed anti-imperialists demonize Iran at every opportunity.
International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy – Canada, a not-for profit organization, was added to the terrorist entity list in 2014, in retaliation for supporting orphans and a hospital in the Gaza Strip.
But just as big of a scandal is who the terrorist list does not include.
The groups the list doesn’t target & why this is problematic
The omissions from Canada’s terrorist entity list demonstrate the extreme nature of Canada’s imperialist foreign policy, whether under a Conservative or Liberal government, almost always supported by the New Democratic Party.
As mentioned before, the terrorist MEK group was removed in 2012 in an anti-Iranian political calculation, to support its collaboration with the Israeli government against Iran.
Venezuelan right-wing group Voluntad Popular (VP) is a prime candidate for a terrorist list based in reality. Even though the Canadian government had accepted the 2014 presidential election results, which saw Nicholas Maduro come to power, VP’s leader Leopoldo López launched La Salida (exit/departure). VP activists formed violent militas which targeted citizens, and launched “guarimbas” protests that left 43 Venezuelans dead and 800 injured. Voluntad Popular was never added to the terrorist entity list, while the new Liberal government proceeded to lead support for self-declared Venezuelan president Juan Guaido’s 2019 coup attempt.
That same year, both the Liberals and Conservatives supported the February 2014 Maidan coup, led by neo-Nazi groups, against Ukraine’s legitimately elected Yanukovich government. Soon afterwards, neo-Nazi battalions including. In June 2014, Ukraine formally integrated extremist far-right militias including the Aidar, Dnipro, Donbass, and Azov battalions into the country’s National Guard, which is led by Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Azov’s original commander, Andriy Biletsky stated that Ukraine’s mission should be to “lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade…against the Semite-led Untermenschen.”
Multiple Western outlets have confirmed that the militia is a neo-Nazi one: The New York Times called the battalion “openly neo-Nazi,” while USA Today, The Daily Beast, The Telegraph, and Haaretz documented group members’ proclivity for swastikas, salutes, and other Nazi symbols, and individual fighters have also acknowledged being neo-Nazis. The unit has recruited neo-Nazis from Germany, the UK, Brazil, Sweden, and America.
Despite knowledge of these facts, in 2015, the Harper government initiated Operation UNIFIER, a program which saw the Canadian Armed Forces supply the Ukrainian military and paramilitary police units with training and weapons.
While there have been limited attempts by multiple countries to prevent weapons from reaching the militias, the Daily Beast reported that these efforts have miserably failed.
These militias have also been accused of committing war crimes on multiple occasions, while in spring 2018, a lethal wave of anti-Roma pogroms swept through Ukraine, with at least six attacks in two months. The C14 and the National Druzhina, the two gangs behind the attacks, proudly posted pogrom videos on social media. National Druzhina is a part of the Azov Battalion.
In recent years there has been an American supported, virulently Russophobic campaign, to shut down opposition news channels. On February 3, 2021, supposedly liberal president Volodymyr Zelenskiy announced a ban on three more opposition news channels. This campaign came to a head when Neo-nazi and right-wing nationalist groups including C14 rallied to demand the shut down of the last remaining opposition news channel. Multiple opposition politicians and an owner of three banned opposition TV channels in Ukraine now face trumped up charges of treason.
By refusing to add any of the numerous neo-Nazi organizations, such as Azov Battalion, C14, Dnipro and more to the terrorist entity list, while directly arming the militias integrated into the Ukrainian National Guard, the Canadian government is actively complicit in the rise of fascist forces in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, the Al-Qaeda linked East Turkestan Islamic Movement, has never been put on Canada’s terrorist entities list. William Dere & Jooned Khan explained that:
“The East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) was declared a terrorist organization by the US (until recently), the European Union and the UN Security Council Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee. It, along with the Turkistan Islamic Party, have recruited tens of thousands of Uyghurs to fight alongside Al-Qaeda in Syria. Many of these fighters return to Xinjiang to carry out the terror attacks in the region and elsewhere in China. The Canadian government has not condemned the acts of terrorism committed by these Uyghur separatists.”
The Grayzone detailed the danger posed to the Xinjiang region by the Turkestan Islamic Party:
“The Associated Press has reported that since “2013, thousands of Uighurs… have traveled to Syria to train with the Uighur militant group Turkistan Islamic Party and fight alongside al-Qaida,” with “several hundred join[ing] the Islamic State.”
The Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) has been among the most recalcitrant forces operating in the Al Qaeda-controlled Idlib province, rejecting all ceasefire efforts while indoctrinating children into militancy. TIP leadership has called on foreign Muslims to wage jihad in Syria, publishing an online recruitment video in 2018 that celebrated the 9/11 attacks as holy retaliation against a decadent United States awash in “homosexuality and sin.”
There are an estimated 15,000 armed Uyghur fighters in the Syrian province of Idlib. Their purpose in fighting alongside Al-Qaeda is to overthrow the Syrian government, which has friendly relations with China, and to gain military experience for their proposed return to Xinjiang Province in order to separate that province from China. Despite this, the United States government recently de-listed the ETIM from its terrorist entities list.
Uyghur separatists view Zionism as a model for a dream homeland in Xinjiang, something many Canada’s left have seemingly been totally unaware of. Fighting Israel’s Zionist, colonial decades long campaign of ethnic cleansing against Palestinians, but supporting those who would seek to replicate it in Xinjiang, how incredibly ironic.
Canada’s terrorist entity list is not meant to genuinely combat terrorism. Rather, it uses the declaration of some genuine terrorist organizations and white nationalist groups,
to provide cover for targeting anti-colonial and anti-imperialist groups.
Aidan Jonah is the Editor-in-Chief of The Canada Files, a socialist, anti-imperialist news site founded in 2019. He has written about Canadian imperialism, federal politics, and left-wing resistance to colonialism across the world. He is a second-year Bachelor of Journalism student at Ryerson University, who was the Head of Communications and Community Engagement for Etobicoke North NDP Candidate Naiima Farah in the 2019 Federal Election.
Posted June 9, 2021