FBI Reveals Buffalo Mass Shooter Influenced by “Sandman.” Who the Hell Is That?
And who platforms those indoctrinating America’s male youth to commit mass murder?
New details of the investigation into the recent horrific mass shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York were surfaced by The Buffalo News today.
The article provides several revelations regarding an entity who influenced the 18-year old shooter to murder innocents (all bolded emphasis mine):
FBI agents are also trying to determine the identity of an individual Gendron calls “Sandman” and “Saint Sandman” in his lengthy social media diary that appeared on Discord 30 minutes before the attack, the sources said.
In the diary, Gendron indicates Sandman counseled him on manufacturers of AR-15 semi-automatic rifles and their quality. The shooter purchased and allegedly used that type of assault rifle in the rampage, which local authorities have said was fueled by his racial hatred.
In the document Gendron posted on Discord just prior to the shooting, he references Sandman three times.
In a passage dated May 2, he quoted Saint Sandman as saying: “When the time finally comes to deal decisively with a whole host of society’s problems, and not go to prison for it, you’ll know. Just be ready. You have spent your entire life, from the day you were born, right up to this very moment, reading this sentence, coming to where you are right now. Look around you. Are you content with where you are right now? Are you where you want to be? If so, continue to march. If not, what are you going to do? What’s your plan? Get and keep your mind, body, and spirit right. Pray. Lift. Run. Read. Shoot. And teach your kids to do those things.”
A third law enforcement source told The News they are aware of Gendron’s writings involving the quality of different rifles. The shooter ended up using a Bushmaster X-15, a version of the AR-15 rifle, police have reported.
Dear Reader, please read this quote again:
“When the time finally comes to deal decisively with a whole host of society’s problems, and not go to prison for it, you’ll know. Just be ready.”
So what we’re now talking about in this investigation is potential incitement to terrorism? Understanding how this individual was radicalized will certainly be a key component of the FBI’s investigation.
Without seeking to understand the drivers and methods of enablement of this individual’s behavior, and using the data to help produce improved public policy outcomes, we will get right back to where we started —a place in which we’ve stood still for a long while— so it’s critical to get it right.
With that said, who — or what — the actual fuck is “Sandman”?
In August 2020, The Guardian wrote about “the rise of a toxic male separatist movement” and mentioned Sandman. The article is worth reading in its entirety to gain useful context about what the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as male supremacy ideologies that “undergird much of the far right.”
This is how they described Sandman:
Over on YouTube, one of the best-known MGTOW vloggers, who goes by the name of Sandman, has racked up more 90m views for videos with titles ranging from “Smart men don’t get married” to “Criticise her and she will destroy your career”.
The article describes a now-familiar lexicon of red-pilling, incels, alphas/betas, Stacy/Chad/Tyrone, MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way), and MRA (Men’s Rights Activists):
Note the last bit about how MGTOW adherents must “work toward limited government”. Suppose you aren’t aware of how easily misogyny connects down the line to other extreme beliefs. In that case, you might think resistance to the government to be incongruent with the rest of the ideology described in the article.
Much of the radicalization occurs on platforms such as YouTube, where the recommender algorithms do much of the work of presenting new and related content to users. As a way to understand how this works, we can draw from a handy research paper titled, “‘How over is it?’ Understanding the Incel Community on YouTube”. Amongst the paper’s various conclusions relating to future academic research which could build on theirs was this statement (all bolded annotations are mine):
We also analyzed how YouTube’s recommendation algorithm behaves with respect to Incel-related videos. By performing random walks on the recommendation graph, we estimated a 6.3% chance for a user who starts by watching non-Incel related videos to be recommended Incel-related ones within five recommendation hops. At the same time, users who have seen two or three Incel-related videos at the start of their walk see recommendations that consist of 9.4% and 11.4% Incel-related videos, respectively.
Moreover, the portion of Incel-related recommendations increases substantially as the user watches an increasing number of consecutive Incel-related videos.
Another research paper, far broader in scope with regard to its analysis of the “Manosphere”, was released in 2020 titled, “The Evolution of the Manosphere Across the Web”.
The authors state:
By analyzing the popularity and user activity across several different forums and subreddits, we find that older communities, such as Men’s Rights Activists and Pick Up Artists, are becoming less popular and active, while newer communities, like Incels and Men Going Their Own Way, are thriving. […]
Our analysis indicates that the newer communities in the Manosphere (Incels, MGTOW and TRP) are more toxic and misogynistic than the older ones (PUA, MRA), as theorized by previous literature. […]
Previous work has shown that fringe communities impact the information we see online, and recent events have suggested that some of these communities have played a role in hate crimes and mass murders, highlighting the real world consequences of their espoused ideology. […]
It would also be interesting to analyze migrations between the user bases of Manosphere communities to other fringe communities. For instance, perpetrators of hate crimes have been found to be associated with both White Nationalist ideology and Manosphere-related ideas, therefore, it is possible that communities in the Manosphere may act as very real gateways along a radicalization pathway.
The shooter’s Discord log, which was leaked to the public (Note: I could not locate the original source, or be fully certain I am handling an unmodified original), references Sandman multiple times:
Sadly, dear Reader, I must inform you that the Buffalo shooter, inspired by other mass shooters, also considered shooting up an Elementary school— but wasn’t sure if he’d have trouble with access.
We can also note he was inspired in his behaviors by another mass shooter. Drawing upon other extremists for inspiration is a recurrent theme throughout the killer’s Discord logs, as well as his manifesto.
Birds of a Feather, Flock Together
Once I located Sandman’s account on Twitter, I knew I’d only have to scroll down a little bit to find them interacting with @elonmusk in some capacity.
As my mother always says, ‘birds of a feather, flock together’.
Reddit Starter Pack
In fact, Sandman has been a fixture on the MGTOW circuit for so long, his logo was added as part of a Reddit “Starter Pack” meme describing the basic characteristics of a member of said subculture as far back as five years ago (see my annotation in red on the screenshot below):
“She looked like a dumb baby pig”
Sandman’s logo particularly interested me based on its characteristics: a modified depiction of Marilyn Monroe with the body of Uncle Sam, which was updated a few years ago to depict a less directly-identifiable, heavily-makeup’ed woman with empty eyes.
Once a hatred of women is established, it stands to reason that the use of a popular symbol of femininity pasted onto the most recognizable avatar of the United States of America during the establishment of said hatred can serve to conflate both concepts later on — to transfer a man’s hatred of women onto hatred of the state.
You’ll notice that Ben’s beliefs, an avowed MGTOW adherent, as described here in Artefact Magazine, are strikingly similar in various ways to the Buffalo shooter’s and to those of other mass shooters with incel-like ideologies, such as Elliot Rodgers.
From the article (all bolded emphasis is mine):
Despite claiming to be a decentralised, non-hierarchical group, MGTOW is in effect coordinated by a small circle of users (Sandman, Howard Dare, MGTOW is Freedom, TFM) who regularly publish content across a variety of online platforms and channels.
According to Ben, reading or watching that content was “a billion times more effective than going to a psychologist or a marriage counsellor.”
Note those bolded names, as we’ll be revisiting them soon enough.
There’s Even An App
The person or organization behind mgtow.tv has even deployed an Android app called “MGTOW TV” in the Google Play store, which doesn’t appear to have many downloads, yet the metadata provides us helpful clues, including a PO Box in Stuart, Florida.
It seems clear the reason the site was named OpenTaxi.cab is because the site’s owner originally intended it to become an Uber-like platform. While the developer’s site is down now, it was up as recently of March of this year, with the website’s copyright owner listed as “Amr Metwally”.
Who is Amr Metwally?
Metwally, a 41-year-old native-born Egyptian who says he grew up in Florida, has had many different attempted vocations, becoming variously interested in bodybuilding, a private pilot’s license, acting, programming, media production, and business, none of which seem to have panned out. The list of dead domain names associated with Amr Metwally is long and boring.
Similarly, when I took a look at corporate filings in the State of Florida, I found the Metwally surname all over the place. It appears his family runs various businesses, including yacht parts manufacturing/sales in Florida and real estate in the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut metro area.
However, this one filing jumped out at me:
Is Amr Maged Metwally using his middle name to serve as the legal president of the “Islamic Center of Treasure Coast”, which appears to be a mosque? This seems a bit incongruent for a person who also regularly seems to post weird and racist anti-Muslim screeds. Who is bankrolling this man? Are his family members aware of his online activities?
For any eagle-eyed readers performing their own OSINT research related to Sandman, note that the EIN, physical addresses, and management persons associated with a mosque in the area with the same name differ, and there is no proof of a connection between the two entities.
Anyway… Remember Ben, the radicalized guy who said reading or watching MGTOW content was, in his words,
“a billion times more effective than going to a psychologist or a marriage counsellor”?
Much of that MGTOW content is distributed on “mgtow.tv”, a site where Sandman happens to boast a ‘verified’ badge.
Conversely, Russia Today, Putin’s propaganda machine (despite maintaining constant, seemingly automated uploads to the site), notably does not have a verified badge, and their videos receive almost no views. It seems the site is likely considered a potential valuable exposure mechanism to people with an open mind for the types of content RT wants to promote!
Perhaps even just one radicalized American can be worth the effort, eh? Such is the asymmetric nature of terrorism. Here is a look at the site’s currently most-promoted live content, with RT’s livestream at the top:
Who set up this integration? Was it an RT representative, or the site owner himself?
The site boasts little organic user content; many of the videos other than Metwally’s appear to be automated reposts from elsewhere. The site’s two biggest draws are “T F Monkey” (3,664 followers), another popular men’s rights pundit whose videos (which are somehow even more insane than Metwally’s!) routinely receive 1,000–2,000 views, and Sandman (2,827 followers), whose videos average ~400 views each.
Metwally himself posts to the site under the verified account “Alpha Male Lifestyle” (808 followers).
In the sample nutty and hateful video I’ve screenshotted below titled “The Taliban America’s Real Heroes”, among many horrifically racist, misogynist, and flat out insane things he says, at around 22m20s, he explicitly tells his followers,
“Do not speak to fuckin’ normies. They will rat you out.”
He goes on to say flight attendants reminding people to wear their masks on planes are a method used by an “inferior” people [women] to “exert their power”.
In the same video, Metwally calls COVID a hoax, even as he appears to sniff back a load of mucus and states, “I might have COVID right now.” He seems out of breath throughout the video, and at 44m50s, as he’s going into an anti-vaccine screed, he seems to totally lose control over his breathlessness.
At 58m50s, while describing filming a scene in a production where he was working as an actor and a SWAT Team member hired to perform alongside him ‘roughs him up’, he says, in an especially aggrieved tone:
“You guys think George Floyd had it bad? George Floyd ain’t got nothin’ on me!”
Separately, I happened to find “The Taliban America’s Real Heroes” because it was reposted to an alt-right forum by a user named “CreepyJoe” with an anti-American, anti-Semitic, anti-vaccine, and generally psychotic viewpoint, as is customary for such forums.
CreepyJoe repeats Metwally’s points to demonstrate which most influenced him, and encourages others to view the video.
There are so many videos, comments, and quotes I could have highlighted for this article, but it was a real challenge to find the wildest one(s). There’s too much material and only so much anti-human hate a regular person can listen to. I certainly don’t want to republish a list of the worst comments — suffice to say that you would only ever make this type of commentary on a stage or pulpit about people you want dead. That is the ultimate purpose of hate speech — to incite others to action.
In an August 2021 article published in The Guardian titled, “The incel movement is a form of extremism and it cannot be ignored any longer,” respected British feminist author Laura Bates explains:
The more frequently they see misogynistic content, the less shocking it seems. After viewing one video, or liking one post, social media platforms feed more content, often more extreme in nature, to users with the aim of maintaining and monetising their attention spans. […]
The normalisation of low-level sexism and sexual harassment makes extremist misogyny seem more acceptable to young people when they happen across it online. […]
It is easier to slip into the clutches of an online group portraying white men as the real oppressed victims of society when high-profile figures are contributing to the portrayal of feminists as a hate group bent on terrorising men. Extremists celebrate this kind of mainstream content as they believe it widens the “Overton window” of publicly acceptable discourse, thus making their own ideas appear more reasonable as a result.
Below is an excerpt of a more detailed, first-hand account of what it is like to become radicalized through alt-right misogyny as the gateway. The story was shared by a Reddit user who wanted to describe the negative effect MGTOW and associated far right philosophies had exerted over his life.
Essentially, he was brainwashed, lost touch with reality, and narrowly made his way back from the brink:
Poignantly, the Reddit user also said:
I was also sympathetic to incels as well as Elliott Rodger and Alek Minassian massacres even though I was against their actions
I write this to drive home a point about the importance of careful moderation in online communities — we must cultivate our cultures as we would cultivate our gardens. Certain plants are weeds in specific contexts, and we need to recognize the simple value of regular weeding and respect the sharing of knowledge necessary for weeding to allow communities to thrive.
After decades of experience participating in and developing online communities, I posit a state of thriving can only be achieved with visible pushback and financial disempowerment against harmful elements. Unfortunately, these elements, despite claiming their right to free speech trumps everyone else’s right to participate in the Internet safely, often serve primarily to threaten the rights of others.
We must actively work to create the world we wish to see. Allowing bad actors to remain unfettered while unevenly applying justice elsewhere does not best serve our society. Moreover, not all justice need be of the criminal or civil kind — social justice is available to us.
We should be using this wide-ranging toolkit to determine the type of society we wish to be. I encourage others to use any available legal and ethical methods to identify these individuals. Bad actors should never be provided safe harbor from which to spew hate onto the rest of us while improperly using the 1st Amendment as a defensive territory from which to operate.
Freedom of speech is not freedom from consequences!
Authorities should be asking pointed questions about how Metwally earns a living, since he claims to have a deficit between running the site, viewer donations, and sponsorship/ads.
Remember that #1 account on Metwally’s site I mentioned called “TF Monkey” above? Turns out they were already deplatformed from YouTube (Sandman still isn’t, somehow…), which is why “TFM” has found new distribution on sites like BitChute or Metwally’s mgtow.tv, whose content moderation practices won’t ever impede the steady flow of hatred and conspiracy theories.
In fact, it was illuminating to find an article stating that researchers at Cornell Tech and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne published a study recommending that platforms work together to identify and demonetize bad actors to avoid allowing them to bypass these informal tech industry sanctions (all bolded emphasis and links are mine):
On one of the accounts flagged by researchers, a channel called Turd Flinging Monkey (bear with me here), the first dozen videos have been flagged as inappropriate. By YouTube standards, that account could be demonetized for posting problematic content. But it doesn’t matter what YouTube does, because that creator is making money elsewhere.
The account includes links to its BitChute profile, Patreon account, Discord username and a number of other platforms, some of which allow the creator to get paid. On Patreon alone, the account is making anywhere from $900 to $4,000 per month. So even if YouTube demonetizes the problematic videos, the creator is still able to share that content and earn a living from other services.
Their Patreon (605 subscribers) enables them to build and maintain a life off of the promotion of hateful conspiracy theories to young men who might well consider shooting a grocery store full of Black people to be the most valuable thing they can do with their lives.
Amr Metwally and the as-yet-unidentified men known as Sandman and Turd Flinging Monkey are lunatics who should be deplatformed before they can influence any more young men to take dark and destructive paths in a nation where semi-automatic weapons with high rates of fire, 30+ round magazines, and other assorted gun parts to increase lethality are readily available over the counter or facelessly, over the Internet.
Many people have seemingly identified the threat posed by “Sandman” over the years, yet they continue to maintain their presence on supposedly moderated sites, such as Facebook (12,783 followers), YouTube, Apple Podcasts (232 episodes), PayPal, Patreon, SubscribeStar, TeeSpring, and Twitter (8,839 followers), where they are free to continue radicalizing young men at scale and profiting from the murderous mayhem they generate, then defend as “free speech”.
I call on the companies listed above, mgtow.tv’s domain registrar Namecheap, their network services provider Cloudflare, and any other associated organizations to stop enabling domestic terrorism by providing services to these losers.
Getting Ahead of Bad Press!
As I was writing this, Metwally posted a video of a different style than his usual titled “This Is The Orlando Shooter Take 2” aggressively defending himself and his website against allegations of incitement to mass shootings.
I speculate this could be because journalists have been contacting him for comment, or perhaps the feds finally paid him a visit. Maybe one of his followers sent him yesterday morning’s article in The Buffalo News where Sandman is first mentioned.
Perhaps Sandman himself even sent it to Metwally with a warning…
Here are a few of his statements from the video, in which he seems more lucid, intentioned, and clearheaded than usual, yet obviously still an evil person:
“All these terrorist attacks, they’re all false flag operations, I guarantee you, there’s a dirty, dirty Jew behind it all.
And in all likelihood, Mossad is probably out there actually killing the people while these idiots like Omar Mateen get paid a shitload of money to take the fall for it. And even if these guys were responsible for the terrorist attack, I trust and believe these people were being groomed to be terrorists.” […]
“I personally knew the Orlando shooter, Omar Mateen. I went to the same mosque as him ever since the 80’s. I even went to the same high school, Martin County High School as Omar Mateen, and he’s not responsible for what happened. His father is an FBI agent. And to have the son of an FBI agent, you know, go out and murder all these people, come on man, this is a false flag operation.” […]
He goes on to say he met with the Mateen family “again”, that they had taken money to “take the fall” for the Orlando nightclub shooting, and explicitly lists Omar Mateen’s shooter’s sisters’ names.
“Going out and like, killing people, it’s not an easy thing to do. It’s not easy to do it. Um. It’s not easy to do it. Um. Training-wise. It’s not easy to do it mentally-wise. This kid, where did he, uh, he had to be groomed, he had to be trained, and he had to be mentally prepared to do this. That’s even assuming he did it, and he wasn’t like Omar Mateen, some guy who got paid a shitload of money by the US Government to take the fall for this terrorist shooting.”
He goes on to allege, conspiracy style, that the US Government is preparing to enslave people, put them in concentration camps, and suggests that the most recent mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas was intentionally performed by the US Government to “take away our guns”, interspersed with virulent antisemitism.
“Without Muslim terrorism, we could not be where we are today.” […]
The Zionists know we’re popular and we’re getting more popular every month, and they can’t have that. They wanna take down mgtow.tv.
There’s nothing more the Zionists would love than to come onto mgtow.tv, create a false account, and say, “oh, I’m gonna go out and kill people…” and shit like that.
Guys, mgtow.tv has been operating for over three years. In those three years, we never ever had anybody come onto the site and say, “I’m gonna kill, or I’m gonna do…” stuff like that, we never had those types of people in three years. […]
He goes on to say he state he performs content moderation and that he handles community reports about scammers, spammers, and pornography.
What might have prompted this soliloquy?
“And obviously, you know, no violence, such as, “Let’s go out and kill people right now, like these terrorists do”, you know. Now, it’s very important for all of us to be vigilant, cause trust and believe, Mossad, CIA — they’re gonna try to plant shit like that on mgtow.tv, where they say, look, this guy he went out and murdered people. He wrote his manifest on mgtow.tv”
He then goes on to say that he would report anyone making threats to the FBI.
“And even if these guys were responsible for the terrorist attack, I trust and believe these people were being groomed to be terrorists.” […]
“Think about that. These guys are getting killed, but yet other terrorists, you know, the ones who are actually organic, they’re not getting killed, they’re getting captured alive. That’s something to think about.”
Clearly, there are a large number of suspicious things regarding this particular individual and his associated hive of far right extremists.
None appear to have any obvious signs of mental illness.
We need to call this what it is in order to beat it: evil ideas disseminated at scale by deeply irresponsible adults who seem to have a deep-seated desire to harm our society.
Their ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card should be permanently revoked.
My hope is that this article will empower other analysts and journalists to continue working to deplatform these individuals and limit the spread of these harmful brain viruses which threaten our democracy and put us all at increased risk of terror and chaos.
I would like to thank any individuals in law enforcement reading this who are willing to recognize the far right threat, especially that which is embedded within their midst, and who are committed to recognizing this growing threat to our nation and routing it out wherever they find it.
Laura Bates said it well:
This is not just about how we respond when acts of mass violence occur. It is about whether we are prepared to continue to allow a movement dedicated to violent hatred to flourish in our society.
If you appreciated this post, leave claps below to let me know.
A Bellingcat analysis of the origins of the Manosphere titled “How the Denver Shooter’s Digital Trail Exposes the Violent Fantasies of the ‘Manosphere” published in January 2022 reveals the likely reason for the killer’s reference to Sandman as “Saint Sandman”:
For those interested in learning more, Left Coast Right Watch (LCRW), a media organization covering right-wing extremism, has written about this topic at further length:
The only real difference between western accelerationist terrorism and the religious extremists who become suicide bombers are that white supremacist terrorists are far more socially isolated and the radicalization process is impersonal and unspecific — tactics which have allowed them to avoid scrutiny from state authorities as long as they have some ability to keep their mouths shut about their specific plans.