Teenage boy charged in Canada’s first ‘incel’ terror case

A Toronto teenager has become the first Canadian ever charged with carrying out an “incel”-inspired terror attack.

The 17-year-old boy is accused of fatally stabbing a woman in February.

Incel, short for “involuntarily celibate,” is an online subculture focused on members’ perceived inability to find romantic or sexual partners.

A 2018 attack in Toronto that killed 10 was also allegedly inspired by the ideology, but the accused in that case was not charged with terrorism.

On Tuesday, Toronto Police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) held a news conference announcing the terrorism charges.

The suspect, who cannot be named because he is a minor, had already been charged with murder shortly after the incident, which took place at an erotic massage parlour.

Police allege he fatally stabbed Ashley Noelle Arzaga, 24, who was discovered inside the building around 13:00 local time on 24 February. Two other people, a man and a woman, were found outside the premises with stab wounds.

Ms Arzaga is remembered as a loving mother and a kind person, the Toronto Star reported.

When Toronto police learned the crime may have been motivated by an extremist ideology, they contacted Canada’s federal RCMP, which ultimately decided to press terrorism charges.

“Terrorism comes in many forms and it’s important to note that it is not restricted to any particular group, religion or ideology,” said the RCMP.

A first-degree murder conviction for an adult carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years-to-life, but as the suspect was 17 at the time of the crime, there is no mandatory minimum.

He appeared by video before court on Tuesday morning to hear his new charges, and remains in police custody.

What is incel?

“Incel” is short for “involuntarily celibate”. It generally – though not exclusively – refers to online groups of men who feel they are unable to enter into sexual relationships. They blame women for their grievances, which they discuss in internet forums.

The attitudes of men who visit the online message boards vary widely, but they frequently vent anger against sexually prolific men (“Chads”) and women (“Stacys”). More generally, incel forums often include rants aimed at feminism and women.

In 2018, Alek Minassian allegedly drove a van into a busy Toronto commercial street killing 10 people and wounding 16.

He later told police the attack was retribution for years of rejection by women, and that he identified as a member of the incel movement. He was charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder, but he was not charged with terrorism.

His case is currently before the court.

Minassian was allegedly inspired by Elliot Rodger, who killed six people in a stabbing and shooting spree in Isla Vista, California, in May 2014.

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