Proud Boys and the Base named terrorist organizations in New Zealand

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New Zealand this month labeled two far-right US groups, the Proud Boys and the Base, as terrorist organizations as the Pacific nation grapples with the potential Spread of right-wing extremism within its borders.

A senior New Zealand police official approved the appointment on June 20, but the statement was not released by the government until Monday. Canada has labeled both entities as terrorist groups, while the UK has labeled the base as an extremist organization. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s office said New Zealand regularly reviews and updates its terrorist blacklist.

The statement makes it illegal for New Zealand residents to fund or support either of the two groups that join the list, Islamic State and al-Shabab.

It’s not clear if either far-right group has a significant presence in New Zealand, but authorities said the base has been trying to expand into neighboring Australia. Former New Zealand Attorney General Christopher Finlayson said in an email that officials were following “standard procedure” and that many groups on Wellington’s terrorism list are not active in the country.

Police officials noted in documents supporting the decision the grassroots intention to start a race war and establish a white ethnic state. They also cited the arrest of several grassroots members in the United States accused of plotting to kill a couple who held anti-fascist or “antifa” views.

Law enforcement officials also said the Proud Boys’ participation in the Jan. 6, 2021 riot in Washington was a key reason for their appointment. “Actions and declarations of [American Proud Boys] Members show intent to cause death or serious injury to people both before and during the attack,” they wrote.

Members of the Proud Boys have fomented a riot aimed at preventing Congress from confirming Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election, according to allegations unveiled by federal prosecutors in June. A confidential source also told the FBI that the Proud Boys would have killed Vice President Mike Pence “if given a chance,” according to Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), a member of the House of Representatives committee investigating the riot .

Earlier this month, Proud Boys members disrupted a drag queen reading event near San Francisco, prompting a hate crime investigation. Prosecutors have also successfully sought jail terms for grassroots members after they attempted to “commit violence in furtherance of white nationalism and the downfall of the American state.”

What we know about the Proud Boys involvement on January 6th

Political violence, while rare, has recently emerged in New Zealand. Protesters against Covid restrictions set fire to tents and hurled chairs, bottles, bricks and other objects at police officers in March after trying to clear a protest camp near Parliament. Parts of the protest mimicked the “Freedom Convoy” that disrupted traffic at the US-Canada border and paralyzed Canada’s capital for days. Far-right and anti-government extremists have been involved in the Canadian protests.

John Ip, a law professor and counter-terrorism expert at the University of Auckland, said there were concerns the government wasn’t cracking down on far-right groups, even after a mass shooting by a white supremacist at two Christchurch mosques in 2019 that killed 51 people designated as terrorist entities.

“By contrast, both the UK and Canada have named right-wing groups as of 2020,” Ip said. Proud Boys and the Base named terrorist organizations in New Zealand

James Brien

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