Alek Minassian

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Name: Alek Minassian
Date of Birth: November 3, 1992
Occupation: Software Designer
Ethnicity: Armenian (Canadian citizen)
IQ: Around 122 (verbal)[1]

Alek Minassian is an influential autistic Canadian involuntary celibate. He is most notable for being the perpetrator of the 2018 Toronto van attack, where he killed 11 people and injured 15.

On the 3rd of March, 2021, Minassian was found guilty in a Toronto courtroom of 10 first-degree murders and 16 attempted murders.[2] He was later sentenced to life in prison, serving several concurrent sentences, with the possibility of parole after a minimum term of 25 years.[3]

Minassian called for an "incel rebellion" in a Facebook post prior to the massacre, and paid homage to the late Elliot Rodger, who he portrayed as an inspiration for the attack.

Later in the hearings, government officials claimed that Minassian confessed to having lied about being motivated by an "incel rebellion", with the implication that Minassian's statements to this effect were mostly a facade intended to increase the notoriety the attack would grant him. His primary motivation was asserted to be that he was about to fail in his job and live an insignificant life, so he decided instead to achieve infamy via perpetrating a mass murder. Minassian himself admitted anxiety over his future employability subsequent to graduating college played a role in sparking his decision to carry out the attack.[4]

This verdict was in contrast to concerted efforts from sectors of the mass media to depict Minassian in a manner that corresponded with his public self-image, i.e, as an incel terrorist, gender ideologist, and a leader of a widespread 'beta uprising'.[5]

Personal life[edit | edit source]

Born on Nov. 3, 1992, Minassian grew up in a home with his parents and an older brother, neighbors said. His father is a senior software developer and his mother was reported as working for an IT service provider prior to the attack.[6] His mother had previously stated in an interview that her son Alek had worked at the same company as his mother, Compugen, for a brief period as a teenager.[7]

Inceldom[edit | edit source]

In high school Minassian was noted as being very shy around women. According to a self-described friend of Minassian at the time Minassian would play up this gynophobia for comedic effect, often "cowering, shivering and whimpering in [a female's] presence like a toddler". He reportedly acted like this around every girl he met at the high school he attended.[8]

In the police interview that took place after the attack, Minassian claimed he suffered a highly public and humiliating rejection at a party he attended. Minassian stated “I walked in and attempted to socialize with some girls. However, they all laughed at me and held the arms of the big guys instead,” he said. He followed this statement with rhetoric that was reminiscent of Elliot Rodger, and Minassian may have been actually recounting an incident that occurred in Rodger's life wherein Rodger had entered a house party and got into a physical altercation with some of the men there. In the interview, Minassian claimed that women rejected him because he was 'very nice' and acted in a 'gentlemanly' manner, again mirroring the content of Elliot Rodger's vlogs.[9] Thus, these personal accounts of rejection Minassian gave in his police interview are likely confected and were intended to solidify his image as an incel killer in the public's eyes.

In another interview with a prison psychiatrist Minassian claimed he had once approached a woman at a library and she 'brushed him off', which seems like a more plausible account of romantic rejection.[10] He further reportedly told prison psychiatrists he had approached two other women in his life and had also been rejected by them.[11]

Minassian claimed he had discovered the concept of involuntary celibacy in high school, where suffering bullying and social rejection he came across the case of Elliot Rodger. He rapidly became obsessed with Rodger, reading and rereading Rodger's "manifesto". He identified with Rodger as a fellow incel who also suffered from autism, and claimed he "thought about him daily" during this period.[10]

It is not clear how genuine Minassian's attempts to approach women were, and he admitted to having had an 'intense fear of being rejected by females', which was likely a large contributing factor to his involuntary celibacy when combined with his pronounced autism and physical tics and odd mannerisms in general.[10]

The police interview conducted with Minassian showed he was broadly familiar with various Manosphere concepts and memes such as "Chads", "Stacies", and the Redpill and the Blackpill. His knowledge of manosphere concepts seemed a bit lacking in parts, as shown by his identifying the Blackpill mainly with MGTOWs for example. This supports the idea that Minassian didn't consume much content from explicit incel forums, where these topics are often discussed in greater depth when compared to forums like 4chan.

Intelligence[edit | edit source]

Despite being put in special classes as a child, psychometric assessment conducted prior to his trial found him to be articulate, with a verbal IQ of around 122. His level of adaptive functioning, however, was found to be "similar to that of a young child".[1]

He was placed in special classes mainly because he exhibited the physical tics and stereotyped behaviors that are commonly associated with autism.[12] He attended a mix of mainstream and special classes.[13]

Computer programming and tech skills[edit | edit source]

Minassian was an aspiring software developer and studied information technology at Seneca College, Ontario. He graduated a week before he carried out his attack. He was described by other students as being a bright pupil and a highly competent programmer. He was also described by another student as being a 'whiz' with graphical processing units (GPUs).[14]

In 2016 he attended a job interview for an unnamed Toronto company. The recruiter for this interview later claimed Minassian was the "the best hire we never hired" to his senior at the company. Minassian's resume details a number of software applications he developed, alone and collaboratively with other students at Seneca College and at various companies he had worked at.[15]

Autism[edit | edit source]

Alek was reported to have Asperger's Syndrome (before Asperger's syndrome was merged into the autism spectrum), took special needs classes, and was known by students for making cat noises and making cat paw like gestures with his hands like he was a 'catgirl' from an anime. This was reported accompanied by 'stimming' behaviours and physical tics, making Minassian a target for ridicule from other students. His autism seemed to have been so severe a person who attended high school with him later expressed incredulity at the notion that Minassian could even drive when learning of the vehicular ramming attack he had carried out.[16]

Neighbours of Minassian's parents observed that Minassian seemed to have trouble making eye contact on his solitary neighbourhood walks, and that he appeared to require extra care and attention from his parents. One said it was clear that Minassian had special needs.

Marianne Kristiansson, PhD, professor of forensic psychiatry at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden has attempted to explain why so many young men who have commited spree killings have autism. She separates autistic mass killers from psychopaths by explaining how autistic people have a hard time with verbal communication of deep frustrations, which can result in externalising behaviour that includes violent acts in rare cases.[17]

School bullying[edit | edit source]

In a CBC documentary, a former schoolmate of Minassian confirmed that Minassian was, "constantly bullied", and, "picked on". She said that his nickname was, "Chewbacca".[18] Another man who claimed to be a friend of his in high school corroborated the claim that Minassian was bullied, though he added that Minassian had seemed to often play up the extent of his disability to get attention.[19]

Internet activity[edit | edit source]

Overview[edit | edit source]

There is no evidence that any forum incited Alek to commit the killing. It seems that Alek didn't actually make use of any of the self-identified incel forums that existed at the time, and the forums he did use were very mainstream, namely Reddit and 4chan. 4chan is not an incel forum. The subreddit Minassian claimed to have used on Reddit, ForeverAlone, does not self-identify as incel, though the subreddit does cater towards individuals who struggle with dating.

Facebook post[edit | edit source]

Before carrying out the Toronto van attack Minassian posted a message on Facebook stating: "Private (Recruit) Minassian Infantry 00010, wishing to speak to Sgt 4chan please. C23249161. The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys! All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!" alleged text of an Alek Minassian Facebook post before the rampage.[20]

4chan is a popular but controversial internet imageboard. "Chad" and "Stacy" are nicknames for stereotypical jocks and means girls that were apart of 4chan culture for many years, used on incel-related forums and on the /r/incels subreddit (banned since November 7, 2017) on Reddit to refer to popular, attractive sexually-active men and women; a subreddit is an individual community on Reddit based on a topic of interest. The term "Incel Rebellion" is sometimes used interchangeably with the term "Beta Uprising", or "Beta Male Uprising" which refers to a violent response to the state of involuntary celibacy.

Police interrogation[edit | edit source]

In a video interrogation released in September, Alek discussed his use of 4chan, detailing his experience with using /b/ (the random content board), /r9k/ (the board geard toward original content, and de facto home of numerous celibacy discussions among other topics), and /pol/ (the board geared toward politics).[21] He denied being political or connected to the Alt-Right and seemed to browse /pol/ mainly because of his enjoyment of the style of the board, which frequently includes shitposting and trolling.

He also stated in this interview that he used Reddit, specially the subreddit ForeverAlone,[22] but could not think of any other forums he uses. He refused to divulge his Reddit username.

During the police interview, Minassian boasted about being in contact with BOTH Christopher Harper-Mercer and Elliot Rodger.[23] He claims he contacted Harper-Mercer on r9k and Elliot Rodger on Reddit a few days before the 2014 Isla Vista massacre perpetrated by the latter. This claim of Minassian's is of dubious validity and probably represents an attempt by Minassian to portray himself as a leader in a burgeoning 'movement'. Elliot Rodger's comprehensively stalked online activity did not provide any evidence of Rodger ever having browsed Reddit, and Harper-Mercer was a nobody before he carried out his own massacre. This point of view was also echoed by the presiding judge in the case.[24]

Minassian and terrorism[edit | edit source]

Alek was not charged with the crime of terrorism, or 83.1 of the Canadian criminal code. Experts in terrorism such as popular terrorism-subject podcaster Phil Gurskie say that he was probably not charged with terrorism because incel is not an ideology, but rather a life circumstance.[25] Minassian's Facebook post was largely a shitpost, or a facetious and insincere statement.

In Minassian's case, the insincere part being his pretending being incel is being part of a political movement. During the course of the trial, it came out that Minassian admitted to several asessors that he had claimed to be part of an 'incel movement' in an effort to increase his own notoriety.[26]

He had hoped that the attack he carried out would have a very high 'kill count' that would seal his reputation as an infamous mass killer, which is further evidence of a drive for recognition being foremost in his motivation for carrying out the attack. This is in line with evidence that links narcissistic insult and narcissistic drive for recognition to mass killings in general.[27] As Minassian was reported as being 'very shy',[28] if he was indeed motivated by narcissism it is likely that his narcissistic tendencies trend more towards the vulnerable or covert narcissist type.[29]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2
  18. at 6:08
  21. 1:17:00
  22. 1:25:00