Leak of thousands of posts from defunct neo-Nazi forum offers clues to identify Canadian members

Canada World

This story is part of Exposing Hate, an ongoing series examining the nature of hate in Canada: how it manifests, spreads and thrives and how Canadian institutions, law enforcement and individuals are dealing with it. 

A massive leak of posts and private messages from a neo-Nazi message board that went offline two years ago offers clues to identify its Canadian members, including some who claimed to serve in the Canadian Armed Forces. 

The message board, known as Iron March, is where the neo-Nazi terror network Atomwaffen Division was founded and organized. Members of the group have been charged with multiple murders and hate crimes in the U.S., and the group has branched out to other countries, including Canada and the United Kingdom, as well as in Eastern Europe. 

The leak, made anonymously by an activist known only as “antifa-data,” includes close to 200,000 posts and 22,000 private messages made by 1,200 users from 2011 to 2017. It also contains other information that can be used to personally identify users, such as email addresses and IP addresses.

Many of the posts are laced with slurs against First Nations people, Arabs, Jews, blacks, and homosexuals. Others promote violence and death against minorities and public figures.

CBC identified 87 users whose IP addresses are based in Canadian cities, from coast to coast. 

One person used an email address issued by St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S., to sign up to the forum. Others used their personal emails, which allowed CBC to track them online and learn more about them.

One is the singer of a Montreal-based metal band. Another is a welder living in Edmonton. And another professed to be a First Nations member living in British Columbia.

Canadian connections

Others are more well-known figures in the Canadian white supremacist community.

One of the forum’s most prolific posters was Montrealer Gabriel Sohier Chaput, also known as “Zeiger,” who was outed last year by the Montreal Gazette. In November of last year, Montreal police issued an arrest warrant for Chaput for inciting hate.

A screenshot of an archived version of the Iron March forum before it was taken down in 2017. (Internet Archive)

Another prolific Canadian poster was a user known as Dark Foreigner. He was identified last year by Vice as being one of Atomwaffen’s propagandists, producing visual material to disseminate the group’s messages. His IP address was traced back to Ottawa.

The Canadian Anti-Hate Network has had access to the forum’s posts for nearly two years, but this leak will make it easier for them to identify “the worst of the worst,” according to executive director Evan Balgord.

“We’re going to find as many as we can,” Balgord told CBC. “Any individual in that forum is a threat to public safety. It’s openly neo-fascist.”

Extremists whom the network identified in the past have gone into hiding or removed their content from the web, making it harder to access.

“They’re afraid of criminal charges,” Balgord said. “It’s hard to measure the impact, but we think it prevents untold numbers of people from being radicalized.”

Canadian Forces responds

Of the forum users CBC traced to Canada, nine wrote posts or messages claiming to be in the Armed Forces or expressed hopes of joining. 

Several of these users actively encouraged other Canadians to join the Armed Forces or reserves in order to obtain free firearms training. Some claimed that combat experience will be needed in a future fascist revolution or race war.

Last summer, the Canadian Armed Forces issued an internal report that found some of its soldiers were also members of various hate groups, including Atomwaffen Division.

One member, who went by the name FascistSocietyofCanada and whose IP was traced to Edmonton, claimed to be an infantryman in the army trying to lure more Canadians to the far right. 

Another user, with the moniker Moonlord, whose IP address is in Calgary, was particularly active in encouraging other users to join the Armed Forces.

“[The government] will PAY you to get you ready for the race war. Literally no reason not to do military service,” he wrote. 

“The [Day of the rope] will be more fun, especially since a lot of us are active armed forces,” he wrote in another post. In neo-Nazi parlance, the Day of the Rope is an event where they claim all their enemies will face violent retribution.

In an email, a spokesperson for the Department of National Defence wrote that “applicants whose behaviour reflects disrespect for Canadian values, including acceptance and respect for diversity, are simply not welcomed in the CAF.”

“There is no place for them in a military that often engages with local populations of diverse cultural beliefs, at home and abroad,” Daniel Le Bouthillier wrote.

Recruiters put applicants through a screening process that includes interviews, criminal record and employment history checks, and aptitude tests, he said. 

Since the internal report that identified service members who belonged to extremist organizations or showed racist behaviour, 16 have been disciplined and seven are no longer in the Forces. The military ombudsman is still conducting an investigation into racism within the Canadian Forces that was ordered by Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan in August.

This story is part of an ongoing series examining the nature of hate in Canada: how it manifests, spreads and thrives and how Canadian institutions, law enforcement and individuals are dealing with it. 

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