TORONTO — The shooting death of Wolfgang Droege will do little to slow the growth of a new generation of potentially violent white supremacists in Canada, warns a former CSIS mole who helped discredit the neo-Nazi leader.
In the age of the Internet, smaller, independent extremist cells can get their ideological inspiration from abroad instead of rallying around a highly visible leader, said Grant Bristow, once an informant with Canada’s spy agency.
“Some of these more insidious organizations are able to articulate the message without that necessity for either face-to-face contact or that group camaraderie,” Mr. Bristow, who remains in hiding, told The Canadian Press in a rare interview.
“It makes it very difficult for the intelligence community to do their job.”
Mr. Droege, the 55-year-old co-founder of the Heritage Front, once Canada’s most prominent and active neo-Nazi organization, was found shot in the head and chest in the hall of his apartment building two weeks ago.
Police have charged Droege acquaintance Keith DeRoux, 43, with second-degree murder and continue to believe the shooting had nothing to do with the extremist right-wing views that were Mr. Droege’s life’s work.
But his death, coupled with the deportation to Germany last month of Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel, has left a void in the leadership of Canada’s extreme right. Both men were racist lightning rods, attracting attention, recruits and cash to their cause, and were well known to Canadian authorities, Mr. Bristow said.
“Here’s the danger: You’re going to see another lightning rod [which] may not have to be in Canada,” Mr. Bristow said in a telephone interview from an undisclosed location.
High-profile leaders, formal organizations and direct contact have become less relevant to militant racists, he said.
Instead, more are embracing the idea of “leaderless resistance,” which advocates acts of race-based terrorism without the advice or consent of any organized leadership.
“You don’t have to have meetings to be effective,” Mr. Bristow said.
Mr. Bristow has been credited with helping to bring down the Heritage Front by befriending its leader and positioning himself as a trusted deputy and confidant. The revelation that he was a spy effectively destroyed the organization and Mr. Droege’s career as a racist “superstar,” he said.
Critics, however, have said Mr. Bristow’s work with the group helped to foster its growth — a position dismissed by a 1995 review committee, although he was admonished for tactics that “tested the limits” of acceptable and appropriate behaviour.
Mr. Bristow now lives quietly under an assumed name somewhere in Western Canada, where he teaches part time, works as a tax accountant and gives lectures to police and security organizations on undercover work.
In the absence of strong leadership and groups in Canada, Mr. Bristow said many of the Heritage Front’s hard-core Canadian members have turned to more radical, violence-prone American hate groups that advocate for leaderless resistance in hopes of touching off an all-out race war.
Andrew Mitrovica, who also interviewed Mr. Bristow for an article published yesterday in the on-line version of Walrus magazine, said the insidious nature of leaderless resistance has already manifested itself in tragic ways in the United States.
Examples are Timothy McVeigh, who 10 years ago carried out the deadly bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, and Eric Rudolph, who pleaded guilty earlier this month to bombing the Atlanta Olympics, a lesbian nightclub and women’s clinics.
Mr. Bristow said intelligence services will have to learn to adapt.
“[White supremacists] have to have a certain amount of contact with these organizations to become indoctrinated,” he said. “The key is going to be in the ability to look at organizations and the dot-com hate mongers on a much wider scale.”