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Judge says man’s incel-inspired attack was terrorism, sentences him to life

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A court in Toronto sentenced a Canadian man to life imprisonment for a fatal stabbing at a massage parlor, with a Canadian judge for the first time designating an incel-inspired crime as terrorism.

The defendant, Oguzhan Sert, carried out his February 2020 attack “after extensively researching the incel culture,” Ontario Superior Court Justice Suhail Akhtar said Tuesday, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. “He sought it out, he accepted it and he acted upon it,” the judge said, adding that he did not believe Sert’s claims that he was brainwashed by the ideology.

“This is the first terrorism prosecution in Canada involving the incel ideology, which has been linked to numerous violent acts in Canada and internationally,” the Public Prosecution Service of Canada said in a statement Tuesday.

The word incel, or “involuntary celibate,” is a label used by people, usually men, who often couch their lack of romantic or sexual experience in misogynistic terms.

According to a court document, Sert, then 17, entered the Toronto massage parlor carrying a concealed 17-inch sword. He stabbed Ashley Noelle Arzaga, 24 — who was working behind the desk and had greeted him — in the neck, and continued his attack after she fell to the floor, the document said. She died at the scene.

Sert also stabbed another female employee, identified only as J.C., in the chest after she came into the reception area upon hearing the commotion, according to the document. He told her he was going to kill her and repeatedly called her a “stupid whore,” the document said.

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J.C. was able to wrest the sword from Sert and stab him in the back before escaping. According to the court document, Sert reportedly told paramedics that he intended to kill everyone in the building, saying: “I’m happy I got one.”

Police found evidence showing his support for incel views and his hatred of women, according to the court document — including a handwritten note in his possession that included the words: “Long Live the Incel Rebellion.”

Sert pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and attempted murder in 2022. Earlier this year, Akhtar ruled that the attack was an act of terrorism, saying it was carried out “with the intention of intimidating the public or a segment of the public with regard to its security” and was ideological in nature.

“These were not the acts of an immature young man,” said George Dolhai, the deputy director of public prosecutions, according to the statement from the Public Prosecution Service.

“He set out to send a message of intimidation to all women and inspiration to men through these vicious attacks,” Dolhai continued. “The sentence today tells women and men that violence based upon misogynistic beliefs will be called out for the terrorism it is and punished accordingly.”

Although he was under 18 at the time of the attack, Sert was tried as an adult — with Akhtar saying that a youth sentence would be “insufficient” to hold him accountable for his actions, according to the CBC.

Sert will not be eligible for parole for 10 years and will serve a three-year sentence for attempted murder concurrently, the CBC reported.

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Self-declared incels have carried out fatal attacks in Canada and other countries, and a court document from earlier this year showed that Sert was influenced by other incel attackers: Elliott Rodger, a 22-year-old who fatally shot six people in Santa Barbara, Calif., and killed himself, leaving behind a 137-page manifesto and video detailing his violent and misogynistic views; and Alek Minassian, who used a van to kill 10 pedestrians in Toronto in April 2018. Minassian was found guilty of multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder.

The online incel movement is getting more violent and extreme, report says

Akhtar said in his ruling earlier this year that he did not believe his decision would “open floodgates to a much wider number of offenses being charged under” Canada’s terrorism laws, noting that the high threshold for defining an act as terrorism remains. Minassian, the Toronto van attacker who also espoused incel views, would not have met this requirement, for example, as his “criminal acts were committed for the purpose of achieving fame and notoriety,” he said.

A report published last year found that the online incel movement has become increasingly violent and extreme in recent years, and the U.S. Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center reported in the same year on anti-female violence as a growing terrorism threat.

Source: Washington Post

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