Prosecutors: Teen 'inspired by incel movement' faces terror charge in massage parlor murder

TORONTO — A teenager accused of stabbing a woman to death at a Toronto massage parlor was charged with terrorism Tuesday, May 19 after police said they uncovered evidence the attack was inspired by an online community of sexually frustrated men.

The 17-year-old was originally charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder Feb. 24 following multiple stabbings with a sword at an adult massage parlor. A 24-year-old woman, Ashley Noelle Arzaga, was found dead in the parlor.

Toronto Police Service contacted the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's anti-terrorism unit after investigators found evidence the accused was inspired by “incels,” a fringe internet subculture that allegedly plots attacks on people who have sex. “Incel” is short for “involuntary celibate.”

The incel movement is an online subculture that has been linked to a 2018 rampage in Toronto in which a man used a van to kill 10 people as well as to attacks in California and Florida. It promotes the misogynistic idea that men are entitled to have sex with women.

The accused in the stabbing case, who cannot be identified because of his age, appeared in court via video Tuesday to face the updated charges. It's the first time in Canada that a terrorism charge has been laid over violence tied to “involuntary celibates.”

“Terrorism comes in many forms and it’s important to note that it is not restricted to any particular group, religion or ideology,” the RCMP said in a statement.

The accused in the Toronto van attack, Alek Minassian, faces 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder in connection with the assault on April 23, 2018. Minassian is accused of driving a rented van into crowds of pedestrians in a busy north Toronto neighborhood. Eight women and two men ranging in age from 22 to 94 died.

Minassian said in a lengthy interview with police that the attack was retribution for years of sexual rejection and ridicule by women. He is not facing terrorism charges.