(Toronto) Five years after the ram truck attack that claimed the lives of a dozen people in Toronto, experts believe that extremist misogynistic movements remain a growing threat to the security of the country.
The perpetrator of the attack, Alek Minassian, had claimed that his anger was provoked by the women who refused to have a relationship with him. He said he was inspired by the involuntary celibacy movement, also known as “incel”.
The “incel” movement takes its name from an English contraction of the words “involuntary celibate”. It is a fringe internet subculture usually dominated by men who blame women for their lack of sex.
Arie Perligner, an expert at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, says law enforcement authorities are increasingly concerned about these groups whose ideology is misogynistic.
“The threat is growth. It continues to be a problem,” he said.
While Canada has not been hit by a wave of incel-inspired violence since the Minassian attack, several isolated attacks have occurred over the years.
In May 2020, a 17-year-old teenager, who cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was charged with terrorism after he stabbed Ashley Noelle to death and seriously injured another. woman in Toronto. The federal Department of Public Security had claimed that the evidence led it to believe the attack was motivated by “incel” ideology.
In Sudbury, Ont., Alexander Stavropoulos pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted murder in 2020. The year before, he had tried to kill a baby and his mother out of hatred for women. He told police he was inspired by Minassian.
Arie Perlinger, who co-authored a study on misogynistic extremism for the International Counterterrorism Center, based in The Hague, Netherlands, says the danger goes beyond “incels”. To this must be added the groups that use misogynistic ideology to radicalize men.
He cites the “Pround Boys”, a far-right group whose members participated in the insurgent riot at the United States Capitol in January 2021, as an example of an organization that uses misogyny for recruitment purposes. .
“Some far-right organizations focus more on traditional lifestyles or traditional roles for men and women. It’s part of a larger ideology that advocates maintaining traditional ways of life, traditional families. This is the type of message these young men want to hear. »
Jacob Ware, a researcher at the Council on Foreign Relations of the United States, says the incel movement “clearly meets every objective definition of terrorism.” Countering this violence is difficult, as attacks are usually perpetrated by lone attackers.
“Several measures used to prevent an attack, such as monitoring the activities of a group in order to discover where its members meet, monitoring its finances and its communications, may then be ineffective. »
According to him, several people in these networks express themselves in a violent way, formulate several threats, but it is not easy to know which ones are really serious about it.
Professor Perliger believes that American and Canadian police forces have devoted more research and more training to countering the misogynistic threat in recent years, but there is still a lot of work to be done.