Evidence presented at the sentencing hearing for the man who killed six Muslim men in a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque last year shows that he was obsessively reading news about Donald Trump and opinions from right-wing pundits and conspiracy theorists in the weeks leading up to the attack.
The Montreal Gazette reports that on Monday, at the trial for the 28-year-old Alexandre Bissonnette (who has plead guilty) a 45-page document was presented to the court. This document detailed the contents of the shooter’s laptop which was searched by the RCMP.
The document showed that in the weeks leading up to the attack Bissonnette was obsessively searching for Donald Trump news. From January 1 to January 29, 2017 when he committed the shooting, Bissonnette searched for the American president 819 times—417 times on Twitter, 337 times on Google, 63 times on YouTube, and two times on Facebook. Also on the laptop was a selfie of Bissonnette wearing a Make America Great Again hat.
In January of last year, Bissonnette walked into the Grand Mosque in Quebec City with a Glock handgun and calmly open fired, killing six Muslim men and injuring five more. Video of the shooting shows selfless and heroic actions being taken by the Muslim worshippers inside the mosque against Bissonnette.
Another portion of the document shows that Bissonnette routinely checked the Twitter accounts of right-wing pundits, conspiracy theorists, and alt-right trolls. These include (but are not limited to) Ben Shapiro (whom he checked the most), Paul Joseph Watson and Alex Jones of Infowars, white nationalist Richard Spencer, alt-right troll Baked Alaska, conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich, former KKK leader David Duke, the far-right YouTube pundit and alleged cult leader Stefan Molyneux, Kellyanne Conway, Fox News personality Tucker Carlson and then-Rebel Media personality Gavin McInnes. (McInnes was a co-founder of VICE. He and the company severed ties in 2008.)
In addition to the repeated searches of Donald Trump and far-right social media personalities, Bissonnette searched for photos of the interior of the mosque he committed the shooting in. He also researched other men who committed mass murders including Marc Lépine, Dylann Roof, the Columbine shooters and Justin Bourque. Furthermore, he researched information about feminist and Muslim groups at Laval University, where he previously attended, and watched YouTube videos about the weapons he would use in the attack.
“The same themes come up repeatedly (in Bissonnette’s computer): firearms, mass shootings, the question of Islam and feminism, and the mosque [where the attack occurred],” the Gazette reports prosecutor Thomas Jacques told the court.
A unifying factor among the majority of these pundits, conspiracy theorists, and blowhards is relentless demonization of Islam and Muslim immigration. This isn’t the first time that Twitter accounts of far-right pundits have been presented as evidence in a murder trial featuring a white man killing Muslims this year. In the trial for Darren Osborne, the man who drove his van into a group of Muslim worshippers, killing one outside a London mosque, the Twitter accounts of Tommy Robinson, a Rebel Media personality at the time, and visited the Infowars website to read an article written by Paul Joseph Watson. The court also heard that Osborne received a direct message from a founder of the far-right group Britain First but the contents of the message are unknown.
Prosecutors argued that Osborne was “brainwashed” by far-right propaganda. The 48-year-old was found guilty of the murder of Makram Ali, 51, and sentenced to life in prison in January.
Last week, the court heard Bissonnette’s motive for the shooting was centred on immigration. In the police interrogation video, when asked why he killed the men, Bissonnette said it was because he wanted to “save people” from “terrorist attacks.” In particular, he focused on a tweet sent from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau the day before the attack, which implied Canada would be welcoming Muslim immigrants after Trump floated the idea of his Muslim ban. Trudeau's tweet caused a mass outbreak of hysteria and breathless coverage among the pundit class.
“I was listening to TV and I learned that the Canadian government was going to take more refugees, you know, who couldn’t go to the United States, and they were coming here," Bissonnette said, according to The Globe and Mail.
“I saw that and I like lost my mind. I don’t want us to become like Europe. I don’t want them to kill my parents, my family.”
Speaking to a social worker after the shooting Bissonnette said that he had dreamed of committing a mass shooting since he was a teenager and said he regretted “not killing more people” because they were in heaven while he was in hell.
If convicted, Bissonnette faces six consecutive 25-year sentences for a total of 150 years in prison.
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