Incels labelled violent extremists in latest CSIS annual report

Toronto police are treating the February murder of Ashley Noell Arzaga, 24, as an act of terrorism, possibly motivated by violent misogyny. Police say the prime suspect is linked to the 'incel' movement, a misogynistic belief that the world is stacked against unattractive heterosexual men.

Violent misogyny is recognized as a form of ideological extremism in the latest annual report of Canada’s intelligence service, released on Wednesday following the arrest of an alleged incel in Toronto.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service report specifically names incels as an example of violent misogyny, and cites two attacks in Ontario by suspected followers of the ideology.

The classification of gender-based violence as violent extremism is part of the new terminology that CSIS said it would now use to describe the “violent extremist terrorist threat landscape.”

We take very seriously threats posed by individuals who hold extremist beliefs, including male supremacy and misogyny,” Public Safety Minister Bill Blair’s office said in a statement Thursday.

“Our government is committed to countering the threats to public safety and national security posed by ideologically motivated violent extremists, such as individuals motivated by incel ideologies.”

The report comes a day after police charged a youth with terrorism offences over a deadly Feb. 24 attack at a Toronto massage parlour. Police alleged Tuesday the attacker was inspired by incel ideology.

Prof. Stephanie Carvin of the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs said the report was a sign that CSIS “has put some thought into how it handles violent extremism — that it is all not the same.”

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Under the new terminology, CSIS divided violent extremists and terrorists into three categories: religiously-motivated, politically-motivated and ideologically-motivated.

Gender-driven violence is one of four types of what are classified as “ideologically motivated violent extremism,” along with xenophobic, anti-authority and “other” violence.

It defines gender-driven violence as “the hatred of those of a different gender and or sexual orientation which can lead to violent misogyny.

“The 2018 Toronto van attack is an example of gender-driven violence.”

Almost 50 killings in Canada and the United States have been linked to incels, self-described “involuntary celibates” who frequent online forums that promote violence against women.

A terrorism and national security expert, Carvin said the examples provided by the intelligence agency in the report showed its thinking on where ideology and extremist violence come together.

“In this way, there is a maturing of CSIS’ understanding of terrorist violence,” she said.

The report also said foreign governments were continuing to interfere in Canada’s affairs, and were covertly monitoring and intimidating Canadian communities to advance strategic and economic interests.

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“In many cases, clandestine influence operations are meant to support foreign political agendas — a cause linked to a conflict abroad — or to deceptively influence Government of Canada policies, officials or democratic processes,” it said.

The problem of foreign fighters is also raised in the report, which said about 190 “Canadian Extremist Travelers” remained abroad, with about half in Turkey, Syria and Iraq. Another 60 have returned to Canada.

“Despite significant challenges CETs face in the conflict zone, many — both male and female — remain committed to extremist ideologies and may desire to leave the region if circumstances on the ground permit.”

Stewart.Bell@globalnews.ca

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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