CANADA HAS officially designated the far-right group Proud Boys as a terrorist organisation.
The all-male group – who played a “pivotal role” in the Capitol Hill riots on January 6, according Canada’s Public Safety Minister Bill Blair – can now have their assets frozen and movements restricted by Canadian authorities.
It also means that group members involved in violent crimes can be prosecuted for terrorism offences.
Commenting on the decision at a news conference, Mr Blair said: "There has been a serious and concerning escalation of violence - not just rhetoric but activity and planning - and that is why we have responded as we have today”.
Shortly after the announcement, a senior member of the group’s Seattle chapter, Ethan Nordean (otherwise known as Rufio Panman), 30, was arrested and charged in relation to the January 6 riots by the US Department of Justice.
He is reportedly the eighth group member to be charged in connection with the storming of Capitol Hill.
Mr Blair expressed his concerns over the "growing threat of ideologically motivated violent extremism” but did not outline the scale of the threat within Canada itself.
While the Canadian Proud Boys were thought to be loosely connected and disorganised network, the new designation, based on what Mr Blair called a “trove of new information”, suggests it poses a higher level of threat.
The group was founded by Canadian Gavin McInnes, a writer, political pundit, and co-founder of Vice News, in 2016.
Its ideology promotes anti-immigration, traditional gender roles and libertarianism.
It was also known for its unwavering (until recently) support for President Trump, who, during a televised presidential debate, told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by”.
In November of last year, The Washington Post uncovered private messages between group members saying, “Hail Emperor Trump”.
But the group has since disavowed the former president, calling him “weak” and a "total failure” after his condemnation of the violence on Capitol Hill and his lack of assistance for members being prosecuted.
Arieh Kovler, an Israeli political consultant specialising in far-right groups, told The Washington Post: “When Trump told them that if he left office, America would fall into an abyss, they believed him.
“Now that he has left office, they believe he has both surrendered and failed to do his patriotic duty.”