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Minnesota authorities look for former Canadian reservist linked to right-wing extremist group

Sep 05, 2019 05:10PM ● By Editor
Patrik Mathews Photo:  Royal Canadian Mounted Police

By Tim Nelson of Minnesota Public Radio News - September 5, 2019

Authorities in northern Minnesota are on the lookout for a Canadian army reservist who disappeared after becoming the focus of investigations into links between the Canadian military and right-wing extremists.

Patrik Mathews disappeared two weeks ago, and police recently found his truck near a small town just inside the Canadian border, about 10 miles northwest of Roseau, Minn., and a few minutes’ walk from the U.S. border.

The Winnipeg Free Press reported in August that Mathews, trained as a combat engineer, was the subject of investigations by the Canadian Armed Forces into possible links to hate groups and violations of Canadian military code. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police also searched his home. Mathews has not been charged with a crime.

The investigations followed a story from an undercover reporter linking Mathews to a right-wing extremist group known as The Base, which the newspaper described as “a secretive network of highly radicalized neo-Nazis that is eagerly preparing for a race war. In group chats, members make anti-Semitic, racist, misogynistic and homophobic comments, and they idolize serial killers and mass murderers as ‘the saints.’”

The paper said that Mathews had been recruiting new members in Winnipeg and called the group among “the most violent, radical fringes of the far-right hate movement.” The paper also said Mathews had been trained in the use of explosives and was believed to have had multiple firearms.

The Free Press said it believed Mathews was responsible for “neo-Nazi propaganda posters that have been posted throughout the city” earlier this year.

Kittson County Sheriff Mark Wilwant said Thursday that border officials have asked local authorities to be on the lookout for Mathews, but that he doesn’t have any other information about him. Wilwant said that although Mathews’ truck had been discovered close to the border, there was no concrete sign so far that he’d entered the U.S.

Still, the Roseau County Sheriff posted a Facebook warning to residents this week, telling them to be on the lookout for Mathews, with a warning: “DO NOT APPROACH” Mathews.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said that Mathews’ family reported him missing Aug. 26, and that they’d been searching for the 26-year-old Manitoban when his Ram pickup was located on Monday near the small town of Piney.

“The vehicle is believed to have been parked at this location for approximately a week,” said a statement from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Beausejour, Manitoba. “The RCMP believe Mr. Mathews may be under a significant amount of pressure due to this ongoing investigation and the extensive media coverage it has garnered. Anyone who sees him is asked to call police immediately and to avoid engaging with him.”

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police reiterated that Mathews is not facing any criminal charges and has no active warrants. Authorities consider the case a missing-person investigation, the RCMP statement said.

Canada’s Department of National Defense said in a statement Thursday that Mathews had asked to be released from service in the Canadian Armed Forces in April, and that request had been granted as of last Friday.

“The Canadian Forces National Counter Intelligence Unit began their investigation into this matter several months ago. Since the investigation is ongoing, we would not comment any further,” a spokeswoman said in an email to MPR News.

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