A cryptic Facebook message posted moments before the suspect in Toronto’s van attack took to the streets has brought fresh attention to a strange underground subculture — the “incels.”
If, as police believe, Alek Minassian posted the message himself, it means a deeply misogynistic internet community may have motivated his deadly drive down Yonge Street, which left ten people dead and injured 14.
Police have said the victims are predominantly female, but don’t yet have enough evidence to say whether women were being targeted.
What did Minassian write?
The post reads in full: “Private (Recruit) Minassian Infantry 00010, wishing to speak to Sgt. 4chan please. C23249161. The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!”
Facebook quickly removed Minassian’s account after the attack, and when an image of the post first showed up online there was widespread suspicion it was a hoax. But Facebook has confirmed the account was real, and Toronto police said on Tuesday they believe Minassian posted the message shortly before starting his attack.
The reference to “Private” Minassian apparently relates to two months the 25-year-old spent with the Canadian Forces last fall. He completed 16 days of “recruit” training — 00010 is a Canadian Forces code for the infantry, C23249161 could be a service number — before he decided to quit the army.
The rest of the message is made up of language used by the incel movement.
What is incel?
The phrase stands for “involuntarily celibate,” and is used by men who feel sexually rejected. The tone of their online discussions varies, sometimes there is mockery and sarcasm, but men who identify as “incels” generally express hatred towards women, accusing them of sexually manipulating or humiliating men. Some posts explicitly encourage attacks on women.
The incel subculture grew through message boards on dedicated websites as well as forums like 4chan, infamous for no-holds-barred discussions and the incubation of conspiracy-laden ideologies. The website Reddit also had a well-used incel forum, but it was shut down last fall after complaints regarding violent content.
Who are Chad, Stacy, and Elliot Rodger?
Chad and Stacy are stand-ins for everyone incels hate or envy: Chads are physically attractive (but often intellectually dim) men who have success with women; Stacys are the women who reject incels in favour of Chads.
Elliot Rodger is the movement’s martyr. In 2014, the 22-year-old went on a shooting rampage outside a sorority house in Isla Vista, Calif., killing six people — two women and his three male roommates — and injuring 14.
Before the attack, Rodger had created a manifesto and a video outlining his”existence of loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desires.”
“It’s an injustice, a crime because I don’t know what you don’t see in me, I’m the perfect guy and yet you throw yourselves at all these obnoxious men instead of me, the supreme gentleman,” he said. “I will punish all of you for it.”
Rodgers killed himself at the end of his attack.
How have incels responded to Minassian’s Facebook message?
At least some incel forums have openly welcomed the news that Minassian seemed to be one of them, referring to him as a saint and writing posts like “one of us one of us one of us.”
“Those with an inclination to violence should keep these attacks coming, while those who prefer a more passive approach should continue to minimize their participation in society as much as possible,” read one post on a popular forum.
“They should be scared, this is what happens when you deny so many men love and affection for their entire lives,” read another post.
“This year is looking promising, fellas,” read one more.