There is no dispute that the wrongful decisions, actions and ideologies of killers such as Jake Davison and Danyal Hussein are contributing factors to the murders that have spread across the news this past week. The former was a self-proclaimed ‘incel’ (involuntary celibate) from Plymouth, who shot five, including a small child. His attack was recently reclassified as terrorism due to his incel links. The latter, a teen from south-east London, who was fixated on Satanism and mentioned on an anti-terrorist watchlist for fear of radicalisation, would then stab two women.
Both murderers were part of communities online, in which they seemingly grew to be influenced by the hateful and misogynistic ideologies heavily enforced by a twisted idea of hegemonic masculinity. Davison was an isolated, sexually frustrated man and a part of multiple subreddits dedicated to incel culture, whereas Hussein was found looking at far-right extremist propaganda in school, resulting in them referring him to the government’s counter-extremism programme at just 15.
Questions could be asked about whether this propaganda and troublesome content are too easy to get a hold of for people who align with the extremist beliefs; or whether the mental health services in the UK are adequate enough to prevent situations like this, especially when Davison was granted a gun license despite his obvious psychological issues. Honestly, in the era we live in when anyone can post anything, and it is beamed into the datasphere - these situations are a reminder that evil really can exist in this world and will continue to do so on the internet.
Extremists can find loopholes to exploit in the 2021 Online Harms Bill, which has been asked to be amended by the “operating with impunity” legal review so that online extremism can be considered a crime. Right now, it seems up to us to avoid and report it, and up to the government to build a system that can start to prevent it.
A Reddit spokesperson stated that Davison’s account was suspended one day before the attack happened, violating the platform’s policies after sexually harassing a 16-year-old girl on the website through a subreddit named r/IncelTear. Davison also uploaded videos to his YouTube channel, where he stated in one that he was “consuming the black pill overdose”.
Black pill ideology is a fatalistic faction of incel culture that seeks to dehumanise women they think are refusing their attention. They believe that most men are oppressed in society, and they feel rejected, frustrated and shameful for their inability to have sexual or romantic relationships. It is almost an acceptance of inferiority that grows into hatred, and the ideology advocates male supremacy.
Hussein’s referral to the counter-extremism programme led to him being considered a person of concern and at risk of being drawn into terrorism, although he was discharged in 2018. Known as a loner by most, Hussein had held on to his problematic ideology. He would spend his time reading more propaganda and delved into a form of Satanism that was misogynistic and extreme.
He believed himself ‘Aryan’, and thought he could summon the devil, crafting a contract between himself and Lucifuge Rofocale (the demon in charge of hell’s government and treasury) to kill every six months in return for “fruitful rewards” like “wealth and power”, it would then be signed with Hussein’s blood. Alongside the contract, he would also write a letter addressed to Queen Byleth, offering blood for the love of a girl that he liked.
These two killers are now thankfully no longer a threat, but both seem to have had almost no remorse for their actions. Whilst alone online, they were able to be influenced by groups of extremists that helped them to feel part of a community, albeit incredibly dangerous and poisonous, which in turn led them to have the confidence, or lack thereof, to commit their heinous crimes. Hopefully, Parliament will be looking further into the radicalisation that can happen online in the light of these attacks, and future laws will be implemented to prevent this from happening more.