The threat posed by the twisted ‘involuntary celibate’ or ‘incel’ movement was laid bare in an official report just six months ago.
The Home Office-backed Commission for Countering Extremism (CCE) warned that anti-extremism laws had not kept pace with ‘rising threats’ such as incel misogynists.
It said the woman-hating cult amounted to ‘hateful extremism’ and its followers created a ‘climate conducive to terrorism, hate crime and violence’.
Thursday’s horrific shootings in Plymouth now raise the question of whether ministers and law enforcement agencies have been too slow in responding to emerging extremist threats.
Incel followers view society as a three-tiered hierarchy based on physical appearance and complain their below-average looks have placed them at the bottom of the pile. Many advocate violence against women.
Plymouth shooter Jake Davison (pictured) made YouTube videos using incel terminology
One British research paper described incels as a ‘virulent brand of nihilism’.
The CCE report, published in February, said there had been 47 deaths linked with the incel world view since 2014, the year of a notorious attack by a 22-year-old virgin in California, US.
Elliot Rodger, who came from a privileged and affluent background, killed two women and four men in a gun and knife attack.
He targeted his college’s Alpha Phi sorority house, whose members included ‘the kind of girls I’ve always desired but was never able to have’.
In a ‘manifesto’ he wrote before committing the atrocity, Rodger claimed: ‘I am the true victim in all of this. I am the good guy.’
The murderer has since been venerated by incel followers, including Christopher Sean Harper-Mercer, who shot nine people dead in Oregon, US, in 2015, and Alek Minassian, who killed ten in a vehicle-ramming attack in Toronto, Canada, in 2018.
Elliot Rodger, who killed two women and four men in a gun and knife attack in California in 2014, is upheld as a hero-like figure by incels
The CCE report called for urgent steps to crack down on incels and other extremists, including measures to stop them spreading their hateful ideology online. Its 120-page report said: ‘We are concerned that our laws have failed to keep pace with the growing, evolving, and modern-day threat of hateful extremism… new threats include the incel subculture.’
The report called for a classification system for extremist material, including incel propaganda, in the same way police grade paedophile images by severity. This would allow tech companies to prioritise which material should be deleted online.
It said the UK was a major source of user traffic for four of the main incel websites. Former Scotland Yard counter-terror chief Sir Mark Rowley, who helped with the report, said at the time: ‘We are at a watershed moment.’
In March last year incel supporter Anwar Said Driouich, 22, from Middlesbrough, was jailed for 20 months after collecting explosives manuals, knives and balaclavas.
The CCE’s findings are still being considered by the Home Office.
Plymouth shooter Jake Davison talked about being a ‘black pill-er’ – a group who believe they are unworthy of love and attempts to form lasting relationships with women are ‘destined to end in failure’ – and has been linked to the incel movement.
He appeared obsessed with his belief that he was not attractive to women and his lack of a girlfriend.
On his Reddit account he said he ‘hated’ his mother Maxine and blamed her for his still being a virgin.
In his most recent online rant from his bedroom he said: ‘You wake up and you stare at the wall and you’re thinking um nothing’s changed but I’m still in the same position, same period in life, still a f***ing this, that virgin f***ing fat ugly, what’.
He added: ‘I like to think sometimes, you know, I’m a Terminator or something. And despite, despite, um, you know reaching almost total system failure he keeps trying to accomplish his mission.’
A fortnight ago, the 22-year-old also spoke of his affinity with the ‘incel’ movement.
Followers refer to themselves as such believe their perceived unattractiveness to women is predetermined by their genetics.
Some extremists believe they are owed sex by women. Davison says repeatedly in his videos that he is repulsive to women, overweight and so is all his family.
Dr Joseph Downing, a fellow in nationalism at LSE who looks at security and terrorism, told MailOnline: ‘The incel attacks and jihadi attacks share many commonality.
‘In all cases it’s the chicken and egg problem. Is it somebody who acts like this because of their predisposition to violence who found the incel movement, or is it the incel movement that gave that individual the idea to go and commit violence?
‘Many think it’s about extremist propaganda and the ability to access it and be radicalised, but I’m on the side of that it doesn’t really matter.
‘These people go and seek extremist ideologies because they’re predisposed to do that kind of thing. So whether it’s Andre Breivik or jihadis or the incel movement it doesn’t matter.
‘The incel movement is pretty nuts. When you go down the rabbit hole they say stuff like women are forcing me to be celibate and should cater it upon themselves as their feminine duties to give sexual favours to men.
Terms used by ‘incels’
An incel is a man bitter about his inability to form relationships with women, whom he believes have a duty to serve him sexually.
Incels consider their looks to be the root of their problems.
Good-looking men are known as Chads, while attractive women are Staceys. An average looking man is a normie, while a Becky is an average looking young woman.
Taking a ‘black pill’ is to adopt a fatalistic and misogynistic world view and a position that is impossible to change.
Going ER, inspired by US mass murderer Elliot Rodger, means a killing spree.
Looksmax is using earnings, possessions, exercise or plastic surgery to maximise attractiveness, while LDAR (lie down and rot) indicates there is no hope in life.
Rope denotes suicide.
‘But it doesn’t really say much about acts of violence. It’s not really an ideology that goes as far as say radical Islam.
‘They’re more of an abstract nihilistic, misogynistic kind of group. So there is a commonality with other forms of extremist violence.
‘It’s more the person is predisposed to to that kind of behaviour and they go and seek out some kind of extremist ideology.
‘The individual is just not interested in the other information out there, they want to find the radical ideology.’
He added: ‘I don’t think people like him will encourage similar acts of violence – in this case we lose the fact that what he’s done is really mysterious.
‘The majority of people you could just never sway to do that kind of thing. But there may well be other individuals who will go out and commit acts of violence and say it’s inspired by him, for example.
‘Some may say yes I was inspired by him and incel and stuff like that, but I don’t think people are swayed, some just have that psychopathic tendency to extreme violence or they don’t.’
In the past few years, there has been a spate of other cases linked to the disturbing movement.
Anwar Said Driouich, 22, from Middlesbrough, was jailed last year after collecting bomb-making chemicals, explosives manuals, knives and balaclavas.
He had used the password ‘killer’ on his mobile phone and told a friend he wanted to launch a ‘massacre’.
Police were called in by a chemical supplier after Driouich bought 10kg of ammonium nitrate online, paying £199 on August 14 last year.
Inquiries into his purchases showed it was his second purchase of the chemical and he had also bought weapons such as a knuckleduster, handcuffs, full face balaclavas, and two wireless firework firing systems with a firework electric igniter fuse.
Earlier this year, a Cambridge University maths graduate was jailed after he bought a copy of a bomb-making manual on Amazon.
Oliver Bel, 24, from Wilmslow, Cheshire, had said he wanted to ‘go ER’ – a reference to Elliot Rodger, who killed six people in California, and is seen as an inspiration for the incel movement.
Jonathan Hall QC, head of the the terrorism watchdog, last month referred to the threat from terrorism becoming ‘more blurred’ to the point that it is ‘hard to distinguish between what is conventionally understood as terrorism and what is not.’
He said there were ‘considerable difficulties’ in identifying whether desires to kill expressed online, particularly when expressed by the young, will translate into acts of terrorism in real life.
Anwar Said Driouich (pictured), 22, from Middlesbrough, was jailed last year after collecting bomb-making chemicals, explosives manuals, knives and balaclavas
‘If there is an ideological component, and I think there may well be one, it is a nihilism which seeks the end of days,’ he said.
‘It has something akin to the revolution of the unhappy or the ‘beta uprising’ carried out by incels or involuntary celibates.’
Mr Hall cited the case of Tobias Rathjen, a racist, obsessed with conspiracy theories about ritual child abuse, who called himself an incel.
He shot dead 10 people at two shisha bars in Hanau near Frankfurt in February last year before killing his mother and committing suicide.
When officers raided the Driouch family home, they found the ammonium nitrate in the garden shed and found he had also stockpiled three litres of sulphuric acid, 1kg of potassium nitrate and 8 kg of urea.
In his bedroom they found three large knives, and elsewhere in the house was a crossbow, ball bearings, arrow heads and a pressure cooker – an item which could be turned into a bomb.
He had written instructions in a Spiderman notebook about shrapnel for a bomb that listed ball bearings, arrow heads and hex nuts.
Driouich refused to give the PIN code for his Apple iPhone, but when forensic experts broke into it they found he had downloaded a series of bomb manuals.
One note, created on the phone in April 2019, listed weapons, body armour and tactical equipment, with prices and was accessed by the password, ‘Killer.’
Another note, created six days before his purchase of ammonium nitrate, listed the ingredients, the amounts and the proportions of other chemicals to turn it into a bomb.
In one Facebook message from March 31, Driouich and a friend discussed their perceived hardships in life and Driouich said he wanted to end it all.
Driouich stated: ‘It’s f**king humiliating I have no hope with girls man I might aswell be a ghost to them its pathetic.
‘It feels like there is hardly any point trying now… I want to massacre this place man. I wouldn’t even feel sorry for anyone.
‘I know I’m a cold hearted sob [son of a b****h] and I just can’t help it I have so much anger built up in me.’
His internet browsing history showed Driouich had accessed a website named incels.co on the day before his arrest, and viewed a post with the title: ‘Could be another ER coming up soon.’
After his crime, Rodger left behind a 137-page ‘manifesto’ and a Youtube video revealing that he carried out the attack because he could not secure a relationship with a woman, which in turn led to his hatred for those who were in relationships.
The post included a reference ‘thots’ – a generally derogatory term used to describe a person, usually a woman, who has had several sexual partners – who would ‘meet their impending doom on the morrow, their degeneracy will be their death, and I’ll make sure to amp up the number of victims up to at least one hundred.’
In May 2018, Oliver Bel wrote to a contact: ‘I just want to go on a killing spree’ and later repeated a similar comment.
The ‘involuntarily celibate’ online subculture became violent when Elliot Rodger (pictured) stabbed dead three and shot another three fellow students at the University of California before killing himself in May 2014
Bel described himself as a Nazi and also had a ‘general interest in extreme violence, both political and otherwise.’
He was identified as a member of the far right Iron March forum in a leak of its membership list online by an anti-fascist hacker.
Police officers from Counter-Terrorism Policing North West went to Bel’s home on Old Eccles Road in Salford to conduct a search in November 2019.
At the end of the search, the list of items taken was read to Bel, who interrupted, saying: ‘I’ve got more extremist material than that. I’ve got the Anarchist Cookbook on my bedroom shelf.’
The book included instructions on how to create improvised explosive devices and the use of firearms and other weapons.
Bel was living in his late grandmother’s flat in Salford, Greater Manchester, and claimed he had turned down a job at Morgan Stanley, surviving instead by renting a room out, tutoring and benefits.
He had passed, maths, further maths and physics with three A stars at A-level but struggled through Cambridge and repeated his second year, leaving with a third class degree.
He returned to Manchester and began a course of anti-depressants and a psychiatrist saw him again in August 2016 and diagnosed him with Asperger’s Syndrome.
Bel was said to be ‘pedantic and logical’, to talk about ‘subjects of interest to himself’ and to have ‘difficulty in understanding emotions of others.’
Oliver Bel (pictured), 24, from Wilmslow, Cheshire, had said he wanted to ‘go ER’ – a reference to Elliot Rodger, who killed six people in California, and is seen as an inspiration for the ‘incel’ movement
He had ‘intense but restricted interests’ including mathematics and cosmology, and an obsession with fences and would look at catalogues and draw them repeatedly when young.
Bel also had a number of obsessional anxieties, including diet and healthy eating and a fear of contamination, particularly swallowing flies, carrying an insect ‘zapper’ with him.
He had an urge to say ‘one, two, three’, made repetitive movements and had to open a carton of Ribena in a certain way.
He would organise things in his room precisely in straight lines and his mother had to close the door to his room slowly to avoid moving things which would cause distress.
Sentencing him to two years in jail, Judge Alan Conrad, said many of his postings are ‘truly hateful and worrying.’
‘Your pronouncements were abhorrent to all right-thinking people, as were the vile images that you kept on your mobile telephone,’ he added.
‘It is profoundly dispiriting to see a young man such as yourself, blessed with high intelligence, whose heart is filled with so much hatred for all manner of people who have done you no harm and who pose no threat to you.’
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