Recognizing the Violent Extremist Ideology of ‘Incels’

Authored by: Shannon Zimmerman, Luisa Ryan and David Duriesmith

Categories: Violent Conflict
Sub-Categories: Countering Violent Extremism, National Security Forces and Armed Groups, Violent Extremism
Region: No Region
Year: 2018
Citation: Zimmerman, Shannon, et al. Recognizing the Violent Extremist Ideology of ‘Incels.’ Women in International Security, 2018.

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Executive Summary

While lone-wolf attackers who invoke anti-feminist ideas are often framed as mentally ill loners, the 2018 attack in Toronto carried out by Alek Minassian was terrorist in nature and should be considered as such. Media reporting after the Toronto attack quickly emphasized Minassian’s struggles with mental health and cited claims from friends that he “wasn’t a terrorist.” This treatment fails to recognize the corrosive political ideology that underpinned Minassian’s attack and his desire to terrorize the public. These qualities should rightly define his actions as terrorism. At the heart of this ideology are hardened misogynistic notions of traditional gender roles.