Return of sailor with white supremacist past sparks protest in navy

Members of a Canadian Forces Naval Reserve base in Calgary say they're upset at how the Armed Forces readmitted a sailor identified by CBC News as the former administrator of a neo-Nazi forum.

Four sailors at the HMCS Tecumseh Naval Reserve base reached out to CBC to speak out against the Royal Canadian Navy's decision to readmit Leading Seaman Boris Mihajlovic without, they say, reassuring them that he's no longer a threat.

In December, CBC News identified Mihajlovic as Moonlord, one of the former administrators of Iron March, a notorious neo-Nazi hate forum that gave rise to the terror group Atomwaffen Division. The site closed down in 2017.

"The command team never acknowledged the situation. Even last year, they brought everyone together to address [CBC's] article, but they never said his name, they never said what he did. It was really on the down-low," said one sailor who spoke on condition of anonymity because they fear reprisals from their superiors.

Reached by CBC at that time, Mihajlovic said he regretted his actions and he had taken steps to turn his life around. He sought counselling with Life After Hate, a group that helps extremists recover, and volunteered with an immigrant support organization.

The navy placed him on suspension pending investigation in the wake of the CBC report. In early July, Mihajlovic was seen working on the base.

Mihajlovic confirmed that he's back in the navy and that his return caused a disturbance, but declined to comment further.

On July 13, Cmdr. Joseph Banke sent a video statement to the base's staff explaining the decision to reinstate Mihajlovic. It's this video that upset the sailors, who say the navy's leadership was not transparent with Mihajlovic's reintegration and offered no reassurances that he was indeed rehabilitated.

"It's time now for us to be able to move forward. I believe in rehabilitation over retribution, and it's the time now for that member to come back and to work with us again," Banke said in the video, which was sent to CBC News by the concerned sailors.

"There are some of you that have felt very victimized by this. I hear you," Banke said. "We cannot counter hate with more hate. We need to build forward, together. We need to rehabilitate, together. We're going to support this member, together."

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