- The Canadian government is considering naming the Proud Boys a terrorist organization.
- Members of the organization were among pro-Trump extremists who stormed the US Capitol on January 6.
- The US Government doesn’t designate domestic terrorist groups, as there is no law on the books that allows it, the DOJ told Insider.
The Canadian federal government is considering naming the largely far-right extremist group Proud Boys a terrorist organization, the office of the Public Safety Minister Bill Blair told Global News.
Mary-Liz Power, a spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Bill Blair told Global News the national security and law-enforcement agencies are “very actively engaged in monitoring the activities of these groups, and gathering the evidence required to support a determination of listing as a Terrorist Organization.”
“As Minister Blair has said, we strongly denounce ‘ideologically motivated extremists including groups like the Proud Boys, white supremacists, anti-Semitics, Islamophobic and misogynist groups,'” Power told Global News. “Intolerance and hate have no place in our society.”
If the Canadian government does declare the international all-male and mostly right-wing organization a terrorist group, it will join a list that includes the Taliban, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram and the Islamic State, according to Global News.
The Canadian government’s consideration comes days after a March for Trump devolved into historic chaos. Five people, including four demonstrators and a police officer, died amid the violence at the Capitol. Nearly 60 law-enforcement officers were injured.
Another police officer who responded to the violence died by suicide days later.
Proud Boys – an organization that recruits members primarily online – operates under the believe that western culture, particularly that of straight men, is under attack by culture of political correctness.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated the Proud Boys as a hate group.
The all-male, pro-Trump group supports more guns, less government, and closed borders, and seeks to “venerate the housewife.” Its members are known for instigating and participating in street fights with left-wing protesters, and the head of their Hawaii chapter was arrested by the FBI after he posted publicly that he was one of the crazed Trump fanatics who breached the Capitol building on Jan. 6.
A judge banned the group’s president, Enrique Tarrio, from DC days before the January 6 rally. The ban was in response to his arrest on charges that he burned a Black Lives Matter banner at a historic Black church during a December Trump rally in the nation’s capital.
During the siege on January 6, Tarrio told Insider in a phone interview he was at a hotel in Maryland. Insider could not confirm his location, but there was no background noise at the time of the call.
Tarrio responded to Insider’s request for comment by criticizing the Canadian government, New Democratic Party, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“They have much bigger problems than a group of drunks,” Tarrio told Insider in a text. “Jagmeet Singh and the NDP have turned turned Canada into a [third] world shithole.”
In America, the government can’t designate groups as domestic terrorist organizations
The FBI told Insider that it can’t designate domestic terrorist groups, and membership in groups that have domestic extremist ideology is not illegal on it’s own.
“When it comes to domestic terrorism, our investigations focus solely on the criminal activity of individuals-regardless of group membership-that appears to be intended to intimidate or coerce the civilian population or influence the policy of the government by intimidation or coercion,” an FBI spokesperson told Insider. “It’s important to note that membership in groups which espouse domestic extremist ideology is not illegal in and of itself-no matter how offensive their views might be to the majority of society. Membership in a group is not a sufficient basis for an investigation.”
While the US government, through the Secretary of State’s office, can designate certain foreign organizations as terrorist groups, there is no pathway to do the same for domestic terror organizations, a DOJ spokesman told Insider.
“While the Department is committed to prosecuting acts of domestic terrorism, the United States government does not designate domestic organizations as domestic terrorist organizations in the same manner that we designate certain foreign organizations as Foreign Terrorist Organizations,” spokesman Marc Raimondi told Insider. “The Secretary of State designates Foreign Terrorist Organizations in accordance with section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended. No similar provision of law exists to designate domestic organizations.”
Verena Erlenbusch-Anderson, an Associate Professor of philosophy and political science at Syracuse University researches the genealogy and language of terrorism.
“In some way that’s not surprising, right? Because I think that for the past 40 years, especially for the last 20 years, the word terrorism has been really tightly tied to foreign violence, foreign extremism,” Erlenbusch-Anderson told Insider. “So the fact that there is a pathway to associate foreign groups, like Al Qaeda and ISIS, with terrorism, but not domestic groups, is in line with that logic.”
Erlenbusch-Anderson said that there is an argument that US law enforcement already have measures in place to combat the violence associated with domestic terrorism and they don’t necessarily require anti-terrorism legislation.
Still, she said, as the country moves forward from the Capitol siege, it’s important that Americans understand the roll that terrorism on home soil has played in the building of America.
“US citizens have routinely resorted to terrorism in pursuit of their political goals,” she said. “Until we confront that this is indeed who we are, we will not only continue to face mob violence and the corrosion of law, government, and our moral character, but also threats to national security, civil rights, democratic institutions, and global peace posed by a political system built on the idea of white superiority and the often-violent exclusion of groups perceived as threats to this system.”