A 17-year old has been charged with terrorism after carrying out an attack inspired by the ‘incel’ movement.  

The suspect, who cannot be named due to age, entered a massage parlour with a machete where he fatally stabbed a 24-year old mother, Ashley Noell Arzaga.  

The stabbing occurred in February and initially the suspect was charged with first degree and attempted murder. However, yesterday the charges were upgraded to “murder – terrorist activity” after police found evidence linking the suspect to the incel movement.  

Incels – short for involuntary celibates – is an online subculture made up of mostly heterosexual men who feel as though society has wronged them because of their lack of romantic or sexual partners. The movement is heavily rooted in misogyny and an entitlement to sex from women.  

While it may not sound like anything dangerous, the movement has been linked to several mass murders including a 2018 Toronto attack where a man rammed his van into pedestrians. Later, when asked for his motivations, he mentioned that he had never had a girlfriend and had become radicalised online.  

Similarly, in 2014, the La Vista killings saw six people dead and 14 injured. The perpetrator self-identified as an incel and published a 137-page manifesto online before the killing spree. In the manifesto, the preparator mentioned wanting revenge for being rejected by women.  

A growing threat  

As Canada makes this move to acknowledge the threat of the incel movement, the quick rise of the movement – particularly in North America – is something to be concerned about. Online forums and chatrooms have become a refuge for incels looking to find like-minded individuals who can quickly turn to radicalisation. While some of these websites have been taken down, those with a real inclination for violence find another corner of the internet to spread.  

The incel movement is not dissimilar to white supremacists who have also utilised online spaces to radicalise young people and share violent rhetoric. Both parties are rooted in far-right ideologies, and there are many points where these two ways of thinking can intersect – from misogyny to racism. For example, the perpetrator of the La Vista killings referenced his disdain for interracial couples in his manifesto.  

While it’s a significant move to finally recognise this growing threat, it may be too late to immobilise the movement.  

We have these incidents that are piling up and now we’re paying attention,” said senior researcher Colin Clarke from Soufan Centre for Global News. “But shouldn’t we have been paying attention five, 10 years ago as this threat was percolating?” 

Photo Credit: The Guardian

Aisha Mohamed