Incels believe women owe them sex, experts tells terrorism trial

The trial of a man accused of intending to commit acts of terrorism has heard from an expert who has described an incel subculture in which people believe “women owe them sex”.

Gabrielle Friel, is said to have “expressed affinity with and sympathy for one incel-motivated mass murderer” in charges covering June 1 and August 16 last year.

The 22-year-old is accused of preparing for terrorist acts by conducting online research in relation to spree killings during this time, particularly those expressing motivation from or affiliation with incels – involuntary celibates.

Dr Stephane Baele, a senior lecturer in politics at the University of Exeter, who has advised the UK Home Office on online security, appeared via video link at the High Court of Edinburgh trial on Thursday.

Advocate depute Richard Goddard asked if he agreed the incel ideology is not well known to the public.

He replied: “Not too aware compared to other extremist communities online.”

In a report prepared for the trial, Dr Baele says: “I define incels as an online community whose members understand society to be hierarchised along sex and attractiveness lines that favour women and exclude men who are not good looking for any romantic or sexual relationship – forcing them into involuntary celibacy.”

He adds incels communicate in forums of an “online subculture” with “sharply misogynistic views” including: “Incels feel women owe them sex”.

Dr Baele said it was hard to define an age bracket of those with violent tendencies, with it being difficult to know how old people are on online forums.

Mr Goddard asked if violence tends to be from younger men “below 30”.

The expert said the most notorious case would be Elliot Rodgers.

On Tuesday, the court heard Friel’s social worker Sarah Drummond’s email to Dr Alexander Quinn said the accused was “very fixated on (almost idolising) Elliot Rodgers (Californian spree killer in a university) and he feels just like him”.

Edinburgh Stock
Edinburgh Stock

Another chapter of Dr Baele’s report explores the “manosphere”, with its main concern being the “feminisation of the world”.

He describes it as being on the fringe of the “broader galaxy of websites”, which ranges from forums discussing and criticising pick-up artists to blogs hosting political texts.

Dr Baele agreed with Mr Goddard that websites such as 4chan and 8chan were part of this “online ecosystem”, with the latter described as “more intensely” and “notoriously hosting far-right and neo-Nazi discussions in politically incorrect boards”.

He also said 8chan was shut down two days after an attack carried out by John Earnest and despite government or non-government efforts, users migrate to new forums under a different name.

Dr Baele carried out his report with information provided on Friel’s Google searches, website browsing activity and the views he expressed to Ms Drummond and Dr Quinn.

Friel is said to have had a crossbow, scope, crossbow arrows, a machete and a ballistic vest in connection with this at various locations in Edinburgh between June 1 and August 16 last year, including his home, a social work centre and a hospital.

He denies all charges against him and the trial, before judge Lord Beckett, continues.