FBI arrest former Canadian reservist, suspected neo-Nazi, in United States

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OTTAWA — A former Canadian military reservist who was accused of being a neo-Nazi before disappearing last summer has been arrested by the FBI in the United States.

Patrik Mathews was one of three people taken into custody this morning, according to Dave Fitz of the FBI’s Baltimore office. Mathews and one other person were arrested in the U.S. state of Delaware while the third was taken into custody in Maryland, Fitz said.

Mathews, a combat engineer with the 38 Canadian Brigade Group in Winnipeg, disappeared at the end of August as he was being fast-tracked out of the military for his alleged links to a right-wing extremist group called The Base.

His truck was found abandoned on a rural property in Piney, in southern Manitoba near the U.S. border, prompting speculation Mathews had entered the United States.

At the time he disappeared, Mathews was being investigated by military-intelligence officers for his alleged role as a recruiter for The Base while the RCMP were reportedly conducting their own investigation.

RCMP previously seized a number of weapons from a house in Beausejour, Man., about 60 kilometres east of Winnipeg, where Mathews lived.

The Mounties nonetheless said they were treating his disappearance like any other missing-persons case and that an arrest warrant had not been issued.

The accusations against Mathews and his subsequent disappearance put a spotlight on concerns that neo-Nazis, white supremacists and right-wing extremists were attempting to infiltrate the Canadian Armed Forces.

While the military maintains incidents of Forces members associating with right-wing extremism or white supremacy are isolated, concerns about their presence has been heightened in recent years thanks to the military-intelligence report and several high-profile incidents.

The issue first came to public light when several sailors associated with the far-right Proud Boys group disrupted a Mi’kmaq ceremony in Halifax in 2017 while a military-intelligence report in 2018 said 30 active service members belonged to a hate group or had made racist statements.

The Department of National Defence later revealed that more than a dozen members of the Canadian Armed Forces identified in the report were warned, disciplined or ordered to take counselling, but allowed to remain in uniform.

Some extremist groups have also encouraged their members to seek military training and recruit service members.

 

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press