Not all mass shootings or hate crimes in the US are considered domestic terrorism. Here's why.
A February homicide in Canada is now being treated as a terrorist act after Canadian authorities announced that the teenager who allegedly committed the crime was inspired by the "incel" online movement.
A 17-year-old boy was arrested and charged with murder and attempted murder on February 24 in connection with the death of Ashley Noelle Arzaga, 24, at an erotic massage spa in Toronto. The boy's accusations this week were updated to include terrorist activities, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Toronto Police Service said in a joint statement.
"Incels", short for "involuntary celibacy", are men "who, by not finding women willing to have or be coerced into sex, turn their anger into calls for violence", according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. In an explanation of male supremacy groups on their website, SPLC incels states feel "the right to sexual attention by women".
Who are the incels and why can their actions be considered acts of terror?
Incel culture has only recently begun to receive an in-depth study. The Department of Homeland Security in June awarded Georgia State University a $ 250,000 grant to study incel culture. The research is being led by Dr. John Horgan, professor of psychology at the university.
"For me, incels are an online community made up mostly of heterosexual men and their self-esteem is defined by what they would consider physical and sexual inadequacy," Horgan told USA TODAY. "The incels believe that most women deny them sex because they are physically unattractive compared to other men."
According to the SPLC: "One of the common complaints of the incel community is that women prefer" Chads "(men with empty heads and good looks) to nice men like incels, and for that they deserve punishment ".
Many incels adopt a misogynist worldview and embrace "violent subjugation of women," said Horgan. While most of the activity that the incentives adopt remains online, Horgan added that some were involved in public violence.
This, he said, could constitute terrorism.
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"It is a set of beliefs that gives meaning, justification, direction and importance to what the incels do and the fact that the incels aspire to change things in a greater and broader ideological sense. For me, this is what makes it a classic example of terrorism, "he said.
"This is not saying that all incels are terrorists. But incel's violent activity is unquestionably terrorism in my opinion."
The evolution of the "fascinatingly complex and disturbing" community
Incels have been around for several years, said Horgan. The group started out as "essentially a support group for troubled young people who were finding it very difficult or challenging to get a girlfriend". The community, at first, was about men being able to talk about their experiences of loneliness and rejection.
"Where things started to change was that I think the incels started looking for a sense of what was responsible for all of this," said Horgan. "There has been a shift in perceptions of injustice and this guilt has become externalized for women."
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Videos of Elliot Rodger have been posted on YouTube. (Photo: YouTube)
Horgan referred to a 2014 incident in which Elliot Rodger killed six people and injured 14 in California before killing himself. Horgan said Rodger had become a "lightning rod" for the incel community. The transition from online to real-world activity was "stark," said Horgan.
"The incel online community is a fascinatingly complex and disturbing place," said Horgan.
A man and a woman were also injured in the February incident in Toronto, according to Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
"On behalf of the homicide detectives charged with bringing justice to the victims of these crimes, I would like to thank our partners in the Integrated Homeland Security Team for their efforts in this case," said Toronto Police Service inspector Hank Idsinga. February stabbing statement.
Police are seen near a damaged van after a van mounted a sidewalk colliding with pedestrians in Toronto on April 23, 2018 (Photo: Aaron Vincent Elkaim, AP)
Incel's misogynist movement has been associated with violence in Canada in the past. In 2018, Alek Minassian, 25, drove a van against dozens of pedestrians, killing 10 and wounding 14. He made a Facebook post citing an "incelable rebellion" before the attack.
In the USA, a shootout in a hot yoga studio in Tallahassee in 2018 led researchers at Florida State University to investigate incel culture.
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