No arrests expected in what RCMP are calling a 'national security operation'
Around 60 RCMP officers are conducting raids southwest of Quebec City, targeting people connected to the neo-Nazi group the Atomwaffen Division.
"It's a far-right affiliated group, which could be described as having neo-Nazi allegiance," RCMP Cpl. Charles Poirier said.
Poirier said two search warrants are being executed in the towns of Saint-Ferdinand and Plessisville in what he called a "national security operation."
Poirier said there was no threat to the general public and no arrests are expected.
"But they could come depending on what we can find. Investigators will be on site for several hours," Poirier said.
He said this is the culmination of an investigation that began in 2020.
Poirier said a command centre has been established beside a church and RCMP officers are searching a house behind the church.
An emergency response team, an armoured vehicle, police dogs and Sûreté du Québec police officers are assisting in the search.
Third raid this year
Atomwaffen Division is a neo-Nazi group founded in the U.S. in 2013. The group claims to be inspired by the serial killer Charles Manson and posits that history will end in a race war.
Stephanie Carvin, a former national security analyst and associate professor at Carleton University, noted that this is the third raid by the RCMP targeting the Atomwaffen Division this year.
Last month, RCMP arrested a 19-year-old man from Windsor, Ont., over alleged links to the group.
And in March, RCMP in Ottawa raided the home of Patrick Gordon Macdonald, a key figure in the group who was known by the name "Dark Foreigner."
"It really does suggest that this movement is alive and well in Canada," Carvin said.
She said the group is more commonly known now as the New Socialist Order and that such groups frequently change their names and reorganize but continue to espouse the same far-right views.
"They want the collapse of society because in the end, the goal of these groups is to create a white ethno-state, and they only see that happening through some kind of civil war," Carvin said.
Carvin said she's not sure why the RCMP would execute such warrants without planning to make any arrests.
"It's hard to know exactly what they're looking for. They may just simply be building a case, trying to understand the network," she said.
"But in order to get a warrant, you have to show that there are reasonable grounds to believe that individuals are engaged in kind of violent extremism activities," Carvin said.
"So it's not just a hunch. It's not just a suspicion," she said.
"You really want to do it in order to prosecute individuals who may actually be involved in violent extremist activity," she said.
"There's a number of groups of this sort in Canada and the the increase in their presence is is very much concerning," Carvin said.
Poirier said officers expect to be at the two locations for several hours.
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