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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

(Guest Article) Nazis, Russians, and Tories; Oh My! Penetration of Conservative Canadian Media by Pro-Russian Actors

Over the past year, Cosmin Dzsurdzsa, the husband of alt-right campus activist Lindsay Shepherd, has received recent coverage for his previous work as an editor for Charles Bausman's Russia Insider. A central hub for the dissemination of pro-Russian disinformation during the 2016 US Presidential Campaign, Russia Insider was funded by Konstantin Malofeev, the oligarch sanctioned by Canada for his role in funding Russian militias involved in the country's invasion and occupation of Ukraine. Malofeev is also known for funding the activities of Russian political operatives Aleksandr Dugin and Alexy Komov, individuals involved in foreign influence operations targeting western countries. Ever since his public exposure, Cosmin has made pains to self-censor himself as a means to stay relevant though still enjoys signalling his extremism to his followers. He frequently claims to have not known about Bausman's ideological inclinations, that is not true. A VKonkate page Cosmin created during his stint at Russia Insider shows the only person that Dzsurdzsa followed was Holocaust denier Aleksandr Dugin. Past tweets include quotes of American Nazi sympathizers during World War II, including Ezra Pound and James Laughlin. Currently, Dzsurdzsa now works as an editor for the Post Millennial, an astroturfed website cofounded by Jeff Ballingall whose coverage revolves solely around producing partisan propaganda favouring the Conservative Party of Canada.

Dugin's sordid past can be found elsewhere. Our preoccupation with this character today lies in his role in Russian influence operations of varying severity, from the invasion of Ukraine, to the 2016 coup attempt in Montenegro, to his follower's orchestration of an arson at a Hungarian cultural centre in Ukraine - an act meant to inflame tensions between Hungary and Ukraine. Dugin's totalitarian ideological framework is a major inspiration on the alt-right. Richard Spencer's estranged wife Nina Kouprianova translates Dugin's works in English alongside her colleague Michael Millerman, of the University of Toronto.

As previously mentioned, Dzsurdzsa is married to Lindsay Shepherd, the infamous alt right campus organizer who has worked to give speaking opportunities to Faith Goldy and Ricardo Duchesne. Both are affiliates with ID Canada, the Canadian branch of Generation Identity. On March 20, 2018, Shepherd hosted a speaking event for Faith Goldy titled “Ethnocide: Multiculturalism and European-Canadian Identity,” a speech based on an earlier interview Goldy had with George Hutcheson, the leader of Students for Western Civilization (SWC). The speech was to be recorded and uploaded to Youtube until a fire alarm derailed the event. Goldy's audience was led outside by Shepherd, with SWC members acting as security for Goldy. In February this year, Hutcheson interviewed Millerman for the SWC Youtube channel. Among their topics were, of course, the ideology of Aleksandr Dugin and supplanting the post-WWII liberal-democratic order.

In September 2018, I passed on information received from one of my assets to ARC Collective indicating that Faith Goldy's mayoral campaign was run by members of Generation Identity Canada (rebranded as ID Canada). Other evidence began piling up, proving the campaign was principally a joint operation between ID Canada and its Toronto campus affiliate, SWC. Campaign expenditure disclosures revealed ID Canada founder Tyler Hover managed the campaign webstore. Hover is mostly known for being a literal cuckold among antifascists when he confided to fellow StormFront users that his Russian girlfriend slept with his close friend when she visited Canada. Three months prior to these revelations, MARTIN SELLNER, a leading figure in Generation Identity, travelled to Moscow, Russia alongside his wife Brittany Pettibone and Lauren Southern to interview Aleksandr Dugin. Generation Identity is heavily influenced by the National Bolshevik movement that spawned Dugin, and Sellner himself has been interviewed in 2015 by the Centre for Continental Cooperation, a think tank founded by Yuri Kofner, a student of the Moscow State University of International Relations. At the same time Southern was interviewing Dugin, Ezra Levant, Southern's former employer, was in Moscow filming pro-Kremlin propaganda. On February 2019, I pointed out and provided information on the various relationships Rebel Media staff had with Generation Identity. Rebel Media was cofounded by Ezra Levant, Brian Lilley, and Hamish Marshall. Marshall currently serves as the campaign chair for Andrew Scheer and also works for One Persuasion, a political strategy firm founded by former Tory staffers which utilizes psychographic information to microtarget voters, in the same vein as Cambridge Analytica. Rebel is known for promoting far fetched and malicious conspiracy theories, including suggesting the Ste Foy massacre was a false flag, Rebel staffer Jack Posobiec "just so happened" to come across emails from French President Emmanuel Macron's 2017 presidential campaign stolen by Russian security services, and having a man who worked for an online white supremacist military surplus retailer shouting Russian propaganda at MP Kent Hehr about Chrystia Freeland's grandfather being a Nazi collaborator. Rebel acts as an amplifier for pro-Russian narratives in Canada's information ecosystem, making it impossible to think of him as anything other than an asset to the Russian Federation....

...which brings us to the point of this article. For three years, I have spent much of my time conducting surveillance and research into the western far right's networking with Russian actors. I have kept a close eye on Dzsurdzsa since his start at Free Bird Media, along with others that worked on the site (ie Students in Support of Free Speech). On occasion, I would even heckle him and Alex van Hamme through Twitter. Dzsurdzsa wasn't the only person writing for Free Bird Media to move on to become an editor for Post Millennial, nor was he the only person involved in actively spreading pro-Russian disinformation. Meet Alexandra Hollenbeck, former student of Moscow State University School of International Relations, former American Section Editor for the Post Millennial, and an unquestionable Russian asset:

As already covered by Dahn Shaulis, Hollenbeck has been travelling between much of the Anglosphere and Russia. Older articles since scrubbed from Post Millennial by Hollenbeck were extremely inflammatory and included propaganda about white South Africans, claims Donald Trump has been exonerated over accusations of a criminal conspiracy with a hostile foreign power to defraud the government of the United States, and opinion pieces denying the use of bots in Twitter campaigns. In her short and volatile career, Hollenbeck has had documented meetings with foreign dignitaries to Russia, peculiar opportunities for a "student journalist." As Shaulis notes, "Images from March 2019 show Hollenbeck posing in two photos, stating that she was at Putin’s party office and the Russian Duma, celebrating the news that Donald Trump had been cleared of Russian collusion allegations. Her images were posted with the hashtag #russianspylife." Interestingly, there is also a photo of Hollenbeck and Post Millennial staffer Yaakov Pollack outside Mar-A-Lago, celebrating the presidential pardon of Sholom Rubashkin, a white collar criminal with ties to Berel Lazar, a Chabad rabbi and the Chief Rabbi of Russia.

The Port Washington Chabad, known for its patronage by the Kushner family and ties to Russian organized crime, including Tevfik Arif (who is Russian-Turkish by nationality), Tamir Sapir, Rotem Rosen, Michael Cohen, Felix Sater, and Daniel Ridloff. All men were involved in Bayrock, a company central to several Trump "projects," including Trump Tower Moscow. It should be considered peculiar for a student journalist to be travelling all over the world. meeting foreign dignitaries - especially after only attending Moscow State University of International Relations for a short period.

When Mr. Shaulis contacted Post Millennial and TPUSA, they played down any wrongdoing, but silently removed much of Hollenbeck's content from their websites. The content that was removed were blatant examples of disinformation known to be pushed by Russian active measures, including narratives of supposed "white genocide" in South Africa, dismissals of Russian-sourced social media operations, and suggestions of failed attempts of interference of foreign agents in Russia's own elections without evidence. In the past, Post-Millennial co-founder Jeff Ballingall has been dismissive of foreign interference in the Canadian election. Is it really any surprise that he would be, in spite of warnings by our allies and own in the intelligence community?

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Rick Boswick, Lily, & Ed Jamnisek Under Investigation For Harassment Campaign

ARC previously reported that Soufi's, the downtown Toronto eatery whose owners, the Al-Soufi family, were facing an endless barrage of death threats, announced they were closing due to the harassment.

In a positive turn of events it was then reported that with the help of Toronto businessman and philanthropist Mohamad Fakih the restaurant would re-open, with Fakih and his team at Paramount Fine Foods taking over management while the family could take some time away.

Now, to truly understand the harassment campaign that caused Soufi's closure it needs to be understood that it didn't begin at the PPC Mohawk College event. It actually started almost 2 months prior.

In August, the eldest son of the Al-Soufis attended a court date of Rick Boswick's, where Lily and Boswick filmed him in the courthouse (which is illegal.) On August 22, Lily from Hamilton posted a video in which she states: 
They’re fucking ISIS militants. Former militants . . . You come here. You have a plan. You don’t like Christianity. Okay. You want to wipe out Christianity. You want to turn this country into Sharia law . . . we know everything, where you located. And we want Canadian people to know if you order food from [address], you are supporting terrorists. Did you know that they send money back home and Canadian soldiers die in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq. When you go to that restaurant [address] you’re supporting terrorists.
In addition to the above racist screed, Lily confirms that they filmed the man in the courthouse. While we won't share the entire video due to her stating the address of the restaurant multiple times, here is a clip: 

Just prior to the launch, Lily posted a video where she accused the Al-Soufi family of being coached by the Muslim Brotherhood to lie and say were receiving threats:

Fast forward to this past Friday, when Boswick, Lily, and Ed Jamnisek (of Northern Guard) went to Soufi's on the day of their re-opening. Both Boswick and Lily posted videos of the exchange (Lily posted 2.)

The following are screenshots of Lily's uploads, to show their titles:

They didn't get very far, with Mohamad Fakih stopping them in their tracks and essentially walking out the door, forcing them out too.

If Fakih is a familiar name, that's because he won the $2.5 million settlement against Kevin Johnston earlier this year.

Fakih, cool as a cucumber, wasn't taking any shit, no matter how hard Dumb, Dumber, and Dumbest tried:
Rick Boswick uploaded his video to YouTube, where some very nice people said some very nice things, and once again, the Al-Soufis were subjected to threats and racism. This time, though, they also had Fakih in their sights.

They should ask Kevin Johnston how well that works.

Nice people. 

Now, Boswick, Lily, and Jamnisek are under investigation by the Toronto Police Service for their role in the harassment. 

Not content with harassing people, they stuck around so Ed could grace us with this gem: 

And with that, we leave you with a (rather belated) Thanksgiving wish from our friend Lily:


Sunday, October 13, 2019

A Deep Dive into The Federal Conservative Party

Given the election date is fast approaching I thought I'd do a little bit of a deep dive into the federal Conservative Party:

ARC has spent a great deal of time focusing on the bigots, extremists, and conspiracy theorists firmly ensconced in Max Bernier's PPC, however the stories that have broken during the election remind us that racism is a problem in all of the major political parties just as it is for society as a whole despite an at best naive and at worst willfully ignorant belief that racism doesn't exist in this country:

APTN News has noted that Scheer's spokesperson denied this took place, that Mr. Myke Agecoutay has declined to comment to provide any proof of his assertion, and that the post has been deleted. However regardless of whether or not Scheer himself said this, this is an attitude that too many living in this country still hold.

A further and more pressing concern however might be the unwillingness of the Conservative Party to push back against bigotry for political expedience. The following example is instructive:

Long-time readers will remember Steven Myatt's efforts to have Justin Trudeau arrested and tried for treason via a class action lawsuit because, you know, he actually thought that was how it worked. The effort was laughable and all that the people who contributed ultimately thousands of dollars to the cause received was the knowledge that they allowed Myatt to travel around the country and eventually settle in Calgary where he has since "retired" from political activism; his supporters have seemingly forgotten this particular initiative in the meantime.

I don't doubt that Mr. Scheer probably thought that Myatt's proposal was ridiculous, however it appears instead of calling him out, he seems to have placated Myatt by outwardly entertaining an effort he knew was fevered conspiracy rantings that have no place being humored in political discourse.

And why did Mr. Scheer appear to humour Myatt then if Myatt's claim is to be believed?

My guess is that Scheer didn't want to alienate prospective Conservative voters. Voters such as these:

By not telling Myatt his efforts were off base and that he wouldn't support him, Scheer allowed people who have been calling for, in some cases, the extrajudicial killing of the prime minister to feel that Scheer was on their side.

Another example occurred last year when Trudeau called out a heckler during a stop at a farm in Quebec. Diane Blain shouted loaded questions during the event, including referring to, "Québécois de souche" (white French Quebecers). The term Québécois de souche has racist connotations in the province as it refers to those regarded as "pure" (meaning white) as true Québécois. Basically this it the Québécois version of "old stock Canadian" that we heard during the 2015 election. In fact a well known racist group in the province, Fédération des Québécois de Souche (FQS), uses the term in their name:
In 2012, they demonstrated against the "denationalization" of culture. In 2013, anti-immigration flyers, signed FQS, were distributed in Chicoutimi. The following year, the organization's stickers indicating "0% halal, 0% kosher, 100% Quebec" were affixed in several places in the same borough of Saguenay. More recently, it was Sherbrooke's turn to see the FQS stickers . 
Their mission: to defend the ethnic interests of native Quebeckers, descendants of the settlers who populated Quebec a few hundred years ago. To protect Quebec's heritage, the FQS is opposed to "mass" immigration, to the point where it would support any political party proposing to put an end to it, "whether it be left, center or right Explained spokesperson Rémi Tremblay, in an interview with VICE.
In fact Blain appears to have had connection to at least two Quebec far-right groups including La Meute:

Source: Montreal Simon

Mr. Scheers was quick to jump to the defence of Ms. Blain stating that her questions, which I'll remind readers included the phrase Québécois de souche, claiming that she had legitimate questions:

Another Conservative MP later echoed the same questions as Ms. Blain:

"I totally support what she says unless people find it offensive in which case I totally reject it!"

I would suggest this as a clear example of trying to suck and blow at the same time.

Now while I wouldn't expect Mr. Scheer to have any idea who Steven Myatt or a member of La Meute might be when he has a photo taken with them, he can't argue ignorance when he attends an event organized by Islamophobes and racists such as the Convoy to Ottawa which presented itself as a pro-pipeline event....

....but which in fact featured xenophobes and conspiracy theorists:

This of course brings up another connection:

While Goldy is much more of an overt white nationalist now.... 

.... she was already pushing far-right narratives and anti-Muslim conspiracy theories while working as for Ezra Levant's Rebel Media prior to her dismissal for appearing on a neo-Nazi podcast after the Charlottesville rally. That fact didn't stop Scheer or other members of the Conservative Party from courting her and The Rebel:

It was only after Charlottesville that the Goldy and Rebel brand became toxic:

However it wasn't so toxic that Mr. Scheer didn't decide to bring a founder of The Rebel onto his senior adviser staff:

Hamish Marshall is only one of the people on Mr Scheer's senior staff who are of concern:

ARC has written about Georganne Burke on a few occasions:
I also believe ARC broke a story involving Burke's membership on a number of Facebook hate groups including the World Wide Coalition Against Islam:

And in news that should surprise no one, she pushes the Soros conspiracy narrative:

Ms. Burke is still very much involved in the Conservative campaign:

Then there are the candidates past and present:

That's okay though. Mr. Scheer suggests that after an apology everything is forgiven:

Or not apologize: