The New Zealand government has declared American far-right groups, the Proud Boys and The Base, to be terrorist organisations.
The two groups join 18 others, including the Islamic State group, which has been given an official terrorist designation, making it illegal in New Zealand to fund, recruit or participate in the groups, and forcing authorities to take action against them.
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US groups are not known to be active in New Zealand, although the South Pacific nation has become more susceptible to far-right threats after a white supremacist shot and killed 51 Muslim worshipers at two mosques in Christchurch in 2019.
The New Zealand massacre has inspired other white supremacists around the world, including a white gunman who killed 10 black people in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, in May.
In the United States, the Department of State only lists foreign groups as terrorist entities. But the Proud Boys were designated a terrorist group in Canada last year, while The Base has already been declared a terrorist group in Britain, Canada and Australia.
In a 29-page explanation of the Proud Boys designation released Thursday, New Zealand authorities said the group’s involvement in the violent attack on the US Capitol building on January 6, 2021 amounted to an act of terrorism.
The statement said that while multiple militias were involved, it was the Proud Boys who incited the crowds, coordinated attacks on law enforcement and led other rioters to where they could enter the building.
The release says there are unrelated but ideologically affiliated chapters of the Proud Boys operating in Canada and Australia.
New Zealand authorities have argued that prior to the Capitol attack, the Proud Boys used street rallies and social media to intimidate opponents and recruit young men through protests. violence. He said the group had put up various smokescreens to hide their extremism.
Earlier this month, former Proud Boys leader Henry ‘Enrique’ Tarrio and four others connected to the group were charged in the United States with seditious conspiracy in what federal prosecutors say was a coordinated attack on Capitol.
The indictment alleges that the Proud Boys conspired to forcibly oppose the legal transfer of presidential power. All five are due for trial in August in federal court in Washington, DC.
Asked by New Zealand media on Thursday whether the Proud Boys weren’t known more for their protests than for their extreme violence, New Zealand Police Minister Chris Hipkins said: “Well , violent protests aimed at overthrowing the government, there is clearly evidence of that.”
In arguing against The Base, New Zealand authorities said one of the group’s main aims was to “build a group of extremists capable of accelerating violence”.
The statement said Founder Rinaldo Nazzaro “repeatedly advised members online about violence, weapons acquisition, and actions to hasten the collapse of the United States government and survive the period of chaos and resulting violence”.