The man charged with stabbing a volunteer caretaker to death at a Toronto mosque shared what appears to be content from a satanic neo-Nazi group in social media posts, according to an organization that tracks online extremism.
The revelation comes amid calls for the killing to be investigated as a hate crime, something the Toronto Police Service is considering at this time.
Guilherme “William” Von Neutegem, 34, is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the killing of Mohamed-Aslim Zafis.
Zafis, 58, was sitting outside an Etobicoke mosque at the time the attack controlling the number of people who entered in order to comply with public health regulations. In the days after his death, Zafis was mourned by his family and friends as a “kind, gentle soul” who would hand out food to the hungry and keep his fellow worshippers safe.
Von Neutegem was arrested days after police released a surveillance image of him.
Now, more information is surfacing about his online activity. Von Neutegem appears to follow a hate group founded in the U.K., according to the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, a non-profit organization that monitors, researches and combats hate groups.
CBC News knows the name of the hate group but is choosing not to use it to avoid giving it any additional exposure.
Evan Balgord, the organization’s executive director, describes the group Von Neutegem is linked to as a satanic neo-Nazi death cult.
“They’re all the worst things that you could possibly think of,” Balgord told CBC News.
“They are explicitly anti-Semitic and they’re explicitly racist,” Balgord said. “They worship Hitler as a God figure.”
Balgord’s organization isn’t the only one concerned about the group’s activity. According to the U.K. anti-hate research organization Hope Not Hate, the group’s beliefs involve “culling” civilization, with followers encouraged to engage in extreme violence, random attacks and sexual assault.
Balgord says while he can’t be certain Von Neutegem is a member of the group, his social media posts appear to show significant knowledge of the group.
CBC News has confirmed Von Neutegem follows at least one Facebook group devoted to the group, has a Nazi symbol on his Instagram account and has posted a chant linked to the hate cult on YouTube. A source with knowledge of the investigation confirmed to CBC News that the accounts belong to Von Neutegem.
“Because of the length of his social media postings and the very specific knowledge he has about the movement, we can definitely say he’s deeply-versed and has been for a long time,” Balgord said.
Von Neutegem’s social media posts also include the use of terms, symbols and videos used by the group.
After his arrest, Toronto police didn’t provide details about when Von Neutegem is set to appear in court. It’s unclear if he has a lawyer at this time. He is set to make another court appearance on Sept. 25.
Police would not comment on Von Neutegem’s social media posts. CBC News has also reached out the RCMP to see if the group is on its radar.
Calls to investigate death as a hate crime grow
A vigil for Zafis was held at The International Muslims Organization mosque in Etobicoke on Friday, where he was killed just over one week ago.
There, several community and religious leaders from all backgrounds spoke about the accused’s social media posts and called on the police to investigate Zafis’ death as a potential hate crime.
Amanpreet Grewal, with the World Sikh Organization of Canada, says hate crimes in general are not receiving enough attention.
“We know that there is fear within our communities,” Grewal said.
Police say while the investigation is still in its early stages, they are looking at the possibility the stabbing was a hate-motivated act.
“We are continuing to look at that in our process of investigation and we’ll leave no stone unturned to investigate this and to follow up on it,” Toronto police Supt. Ron Taverner said at the vigil.
Police have also said they can’t exclude the possibility that Zafis’s death is linked to another fatal stabbing five kilometres away. Rampreet (Peter) Singh was killer five days prior. However, in a news conference on Friday, Insp. Hank Indisgna said it’s too early to say whether the two homicides are related.