‘Day of retribution’: Toronto van attack suspect describes hatred towards women as motive

Click to play video: 'Police interview video of Yonge Street van attack suspect released'
Police interview video of Yonge Street van attack suspect released
WATCH: Global news has obtained access to the police interview of the man accused of the Yonge street van attack, and looks at how it was planned and executed. Caryn Lieberman reports – Sep 26, 2019

Hours after allegedly mowing down pedestrians with a rented van, Alek Minassian told Toronto police he was part of an “incel” community of young men angry they could not attract women.

Referring to his rented Ryder van as a “tool for rebellion,” the 26-year-old said he was an involuntary celibate, or incel, and described his goal as shaking “the foundations of the world.”

“I feel like I accomplished my mission,” Minassian responded when a detective asked him how he felt that 10 people had died in the April 23, 2018, attack. Eight of those killed were women, and another 16 people were injured.

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Click to play video: 'Remembering a painful day in Toronto’s recent history'
Remembering a painful day in Toronto’s recent history

The videotaped confession had been the subject of a publication ban, but the Ontario court lifted that prohibition on Friday, allowing news outlets to report on its contents.

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“This is a tragedy with a wide and devastating impact within the Toronto community and beyond. People want to know why it happened,” the judge wrote in ruling the public was entitled to see the video.

Toronto police declined to comment on the release of the video.

“While the case is currently with the courts, it would be inappropriate for us to comment on the investigation and any matters related to it,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “This includes interview techniques and tactics.”

READ MORE: One year after Toronto van attack, experts say outrage over incel movement ‘forgotten’

A transcript of the roughly four-hour interview provides the first detailed look at the motive for Canada’s worst mass killing in almost three decades, strengthening the case it was an act of terrorism.

In video footage of the interview, Minassian comes across as unrepentant and infatuated with Elliot Rodger, who killed six people near the University of California, Santa Barbara on May 23, 2014. Rodger left a misogynistic manifesto complaining that women would not sleep with him.

WATCH: Man accused in Toronto van attack admits frustration with society, discusses Incel community

Click to play video: 'Man accused in Toronto van attack admits frustration with society, discusses Incel community'
Man accused in Toronto van attack admits frustration with society, discusses Incel community

Like Rodger, Minassian called his attack a “day of retribution.” Minassian claimed to have communicated with Rodger before the attack in 2014 and also claimed to have communicated with Chris Harper-Mercer, who killed nine people at Oregon community college in October 2015. Global News has not independently confirmed Minassian’s claim he communicated online with Rodger and Harper-Mercer.

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The interview also highlights how some individuals use anonymous messaging boards on websites such as 4chan to spread violent extremist ideas. Minassian said he had been active in alt-right 4chan discussion groups since 2014.

Although Minassian refused to answer many of the questions police put to him, he seemingly couldn’t help himself when a detective asked him to explain incels, angry young men who blame society for their failure to find sexual partners.

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Minassian’s responses parroted incel jargon, calling young, attractive women Stacys and their boyfriends Chads. He said those who are considered normal by “the unfair standards of society” are referred to as “normies.”

“It’s basically a movement of angry incels such as myself who are unable to get laid. Therefore, we want to overthrow the Chads, which would force the Stacys to be forced to reproduce with the incels,” Minassian said.

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“You could call it an incel rebellion.”

Minassian has not been charged with terrorism offences. Experts have speculated that prosecutors may have deemed that unnecessary since he already faces 10 counts of murder and 16 counts of attempted murder.

He is scheduled for trial by a judge in February 2020.

WATCH: Witnesses say they are still struggling nearly 1 year since the deadly Toronto van attack

While a single Facebook post attributed to Minassian had suggested he subscribed to incel beliefs, which combine misogyny and mass violence, police never publicly confirmed its veracity.

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The interview, conducted by Det. Rob Thomas of the Toronto police sex crimes unit, began at 10:46 p.m. — barely nine hours after the attack, which lasted seven minutes and ended with Minassian’s arrest.

Minassian told the officer he was born in Canada but would not answer when asked if his parents had immigrated from Iraq. He also declined to answer the officer’s suggestion he was “someone with special needs.”

WATCH: Van attack suspect to be tried by judge alone

Click to play video: 'Van attack suspect Alek Minassian to be tried by judge alone in Toronto'
Van attack suspect Alek Minassian to be tried by judge alone in Toronto

At Thornlea Secondary School, Minassian had been in a functional needs program, and classmates recalled him behaving like a cat but not speaking. Hoping to learn about “assault rifles,” he enlisted in the Canadian Army but did not make it through training.

He then enrolled in a software development program at Seneca College and spent five hours a day playing video games.

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“I would classify myself as a hard-core gamer,” he told police in the interview.

He traced his anger towards women back to a 2013 Halloween party where he “attempted to socialize with some girls, however they all laughed at me and held the arms of the big guys instead.”

“I was angry that they would give their love and affection to obnoxious brutes,” he said.

“I started thinking that it’s unfair that certain guys will not get any love and affection from girls.”

A friend told him about 4chan, and he began to frequent alt-right online message boards in 2014, he said. 4chan and its more toxic offshoot 8chan have been singled out as breeding grounds for violent extremists.

They have been linked to several mass killings around the world, including the Walmart shooting in El Paso, Texas, and the mosque killings in Christchurch, New Zealand. Both attacks were announced in advance on 8chan and accompanied by racist manifestos. The alleged Christchurch shooter sent a letter from prison that was later posted to 4chan. 8chan was shutdown in August following the El Paso shooting.

In January 2014, Minassian said, he communicated for the first time with Rodger on the website Reddit. They exchanged messages on the sub-group Forever Alone, a community devoted to those who identify as lonely and depressed.

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“We discussed our frustrations at society and being unable to get laid and we were plotting … certain timed strikes on society in order to confuse and shake the foundations just to put all the normies in a state of panic,” he said.

READ MORE: State of mind to be key issue in Alek Minassian trial, judge says

They last communicated on May 20, 2014, when Rodger disclosed that he was planning a mission and might not survive, Minassian said.

When he saw on the news what Rodger had done, Minassian said he “felt kind of proud of him for his acts of bravery.”

A month later, Minassian said he began “daydreaming” about his own violent plot. But he claimed he did not start planning until early April 2018, when he searched Google for the Ryder truck rental office closest to his school.

“I was thinking it was time to stand up to the Chads and Stacys,” he said. “So I booked the van.”

Police are seen near a damaged van in Toronto after a van mounted a sidewalk, crashing into a number of pedestrians on Monday, April 23, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim

He phoned Ryder and said he needed a truck to help a friend move furniture, Minassian said. He chose a vehicle “large enough to inflict severe damage” and booked it for a few days after his college exams.

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The plot became a preoccupation, which he said he thought about 80 per cent of the time. Minassian said he thought about “how the foundations of the world would be [shaken] by this event.”

“I was fairly confident that others would be inspired to repeat the same actions as me, basically just to overthrow society.”

The day before the attack, Minassian said he posted a message on 4chan at about 3 p.m. It said an “uprising” would be taking place the next day and encouraged others to join.

He said he received responses congratulating him and that one user said he was “planning a similar uprising” in Edmonton on Nov. 15. No such attack ever took place.

Minassian also confirmed that immediately before the van attack, he had used his phone to post a message on Facebook “stating that the incel rebellion has already begun.”

Asked what was going through his mind when he was in the van that day, Minassian echoed Rodger.

“I’m thinking that this is it,” Minassian said. “This is the day of retribution.”

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