Sometimes, you pick up a story at what used to be the back pages of a newspaper that nonetheless seems to carry the weight of ominous portent. Sometimes, these are medical stories—Ebola and whatnot. Increasingly, they have something to do with the climate crisis. And some of them start out simply weird but, the deeper you get into the story, both its darkness and its plausibility increase in tandem. This is one of those, from Vice.
The information suggests members of The Base are hiding Patrik Mathews, 26, whose whereabouts have been the focus of much speculation. Mathews allegedly crossed into the U.S. illegally from his native Manitoba with the help of the group, which has since taken steps to conceal his location. Mathews went missing after being outed as a recruiter and organizer for The Base by Winnipeg Free Press reporter Ryan Thorpe. Federal authorities raided his home and seized multiple firearms. The former soldier was last seen by his family on August 24 with his abandoned car found less than 10 miles from the American border shortly thereafter.
Recently, an anti-racist organization in Canada heavily criticized authorities for not taking the pursuit of Mathews seriously. A 2018 VICE investigation documented the internal machinations of The Base, which is purportedly led by an Afghanistan and Iraq war veteran, as members exchanged bomb-making and weapons manuals and discussed plans for future terrorist attacks.
Other information VICE has learned points to Mathews participating in a combat training camp with close to a dozen members of The Base in Georgia this fall, where he allegedly helped train other members of the group. As a combat engineer, Mathews was taught explosives and weapons skills during his career in the Canadian Armed Forces Reserve at 38 Canadian Brigade Group in Winnipeg.
If this doesn’t shake you, it ought to do so. This is a level of organization beyond most of the right-wing extremist groups with which we’ve become familiar over the past 30 years or so. These guys were sharp enough to smuggle a guy out of Canada. If Vice reporting is solid, then a group of highly motivated, highly trained professional soldiers are gathering across borders and using their training to prepare for god alone knows what.
There has been a wildness in the land ever since Barack Obama was elected in 2008, which gave a focus to the inchoate rage of the old militias and white-power gangs. (Remember that the Obama administration tried to warn us that extremist groups were recruiting in the active duty military, but wounded bellowing from conservatives caused the Department of Homeland Security to run away from its own data.) If the election of Obama gave these people a focus, the election of Donald Trump has given them permission. That’s many times worse, and there is no telling how these people will react to a political setback that angers them. And, not for nothing, but it might be helpful to remember that the English translation of al Qaeda was…wait for it…The Base.