“White nationalism” is an “active” threat to the Canadian Armed Forces, a new report says, but the Forces’ counter-intelligence unit is under-resourced and unable to “proactively” deal with the issue.
In a report released Monday, the independent National Security and Intelligence Review Committee (NSIRA) said the Department of National Defence has known for years their internal “counter-intelligence” branch has been underfunded and hindered by policy constraints.
The report also found the counter-intelligence unit was unable to “proactively” address white nationalism within the ranks, an issue that the top brass in all three branches of the Canadian Armed Forces have identified as a threat.
“White supremacist groups actively seek individuals with prior military training and experience, or conversely, encourage individuals to enlist in order to gain access to specialized training, tactics and equipment,” the partially-censored NSIRA report read.
“As such, the CAF remains attractive to elements of the right-wing, with a series of internal reports having warned of white supremacist membership among the ranks.”
It wasn’t immediately clear what internal reports the NSIRA investigation was referencing. But concerns about extremist “infiltration” of law enforcement and military have been longstanding in both Canada and the U.S.
Organizations with access to training and weapons have long been a target for domestic extremists. In 2018, then Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance said “clearly” right-wing extremism is “here” in the Canadian Armed Forces.
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More recently, a House of Commons committee concluded in June that the Canadian government must do more to understand the scale of extremist groups’ attempts to recruit from the Canadian Armed Forces and federal law enforcement.
“The potential for these extremists to use the (Department of National Defence/Canadian Armed Forces) as a channel to conduct threat-related activities elsewhere should be of direct concern to senior leadership, especially in light of the DND/CAF mandate and the elite skills and training that DND/CAF members receive,” the NSIRA report read.
The NSIRA report also indicated that after the Canadian government listed the neo-Nazi group “Blood and Honour” as a terrorist organization, the Forces’ counter-intelligence unit conducted a review if any military personnel — past or present — were involved with the group. The findings of that review were censored from the public report.
The report also notes that when pressed publicly about how the Department of National Defence was addressing white supremacists within its ranks, the Forces’ counter-intelligence unit was often referenced as a safeguard.
“Although NSIRA acknowledges that the responsibility for addressing this threat cannot fall uniquely on the shoulders of (the Canadian Forces National Counter-Intelligence Unit), the review’s multiple findings lead to a concern that the CFNCIU may not be fully (used) to proactively identify white supremacists across the DND/CAF,” the report stated.
NSIRA said they will be playing close attention to how threats from “ideologically-motivated extremists” — the Canadian government’s preferred umbrella term for far-right, white nationalist and domestic extremist violence — in future reviews.
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