A Canadian far-right extremist who murdered six men in a shooting rampage at a Quebec City mosque last January was obsessed with Donald Trump and a number of popular far-right causes including criticisms of Islam and feminism, according to evidence presented at his sentencing hearing.
Alexandre Bissonnette, 28, pleaded guilty last month at a Quebec City courtroom to six murder charges and six attempted murder charges. On January 27th, 2017, Bissonnette walked into the Quebec City Islamic cultural centre right after evening prayers and began shooting indiscriminately. He was arrested soon after.
On Monday, prosecutors presented evidence showing that Bissonnette was checking Donald Trump’s Twitter feed every day and had taken a selfie with a “Make America Great Again” baseball hat. He also repeatedly checked the feeds of popular far-right accounts like Baked Alaska, Richard Spencer and Alex Jones, as well as those of more mainstream right-wing media like Breitbart and Fox News.
Evidence presented at Alexandre Bissonnette's sentencing hearing this morning includes a list of some of the Twitter accounts he was checking in the month before he killed six men at a Quebec City mosque. pic.twitter.com/Xdew4HbjkQ
— Andy Riga, Montreal (@andyriga) April 16, 2018
Bisonnette also researched worldwide immigration levels and Adolf Hitler and repeatedly checked the Facebook page of the mosque he decided to target in the run-up to his mass shooting.
“The same themes come up repeatedly,” prosecutor Thomas Jacques told the Montreal Gazette. “Firearms, mass shootings, the question of Islam and feminism and the mosque.”
In his police interrogation video, shown to the court last Friday, Bissonnette said that he had a hatred of Muslims and was partially motivated by Canada’s decision on January 28th 2017 — a day before the attack — to allow in more refugees. “What I did was not wrong,” Bissonnette says towards the end of the interrogation video. “People would be saved, my family would be saved.”
The Canadian government’s decision to accept more refugees was a direct response to Trump’s now-infamous executive order to ban all travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries for 90 days, suspend refugee resettlement for 120 days, and indefinitely ban all Syrian refugees.
Bissonnette, who is facing up to 150 years in prison, was known for making far-right statements on social media, and for following several Facebook profiles that advocated far-right ideology, including France’s Marine Le Pen.
Bissonnette, however, is far from the only man whose vile far-right rhetoric online has escalated into real world misery. Last November, Lane Davis, a conspiracy theorist and relentless poster on the The_Donald subreddit, stabbed and killed his own father with a kitchen knife. Far-right terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway in 2011 — mostly children — was prolific online in discussing the dangers of multiculturalism and his opposition to Muslim immigration.
In February, a report by the Southern Poverty Law Center found that since 2014, 43 people had been killed and 67 by individuals affiliated with the so-called “alt-right” — including the victims of Alexandre Bissonnette.