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Press Release

Manhattan Man Who Identifies As An “Incel” Or “Involuntary Celibate” Pleads Guilty To Carrying Out Hoax Bomb Threat At Restaurant

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that MALIK SANCHEZ, a/k/a “Smooth Sanchez,” pled guilty to making a hoax threat to detonate a bomb at a restaurant in the Flatiron neighborhood in New York, New York, on or about February 13, 2021.  SANCHEZ pled guilty before United States Magistrate Judge Kevin N. Fox in Manhattan federal court.  The case is assigned to United States District Judge Colleen McMahon.

According to the Indictment, Complaint, and other public documents in the case, as well as statements made during the plea proceeding:

SANCHEZ self-identifies as an “Involuntary Celibate” or “Incel,” which refers to a group of individuals with an active online community, mostly men, who believe that society unjustly denies them sexual or romantic attention to which they are entitled.  Through online activity and in some instances violence, Incels target those who they believe are unjustly denying them sexual or romantic attention, which in most cases are women. 

SANCHEZ has posted multiple videos to social media accounts depicting SANCHEZ harassing, threatening, and in several instances harming individuals whom SANCHEZ encountered in Manhattan, while expressing support for Incel ideology, including for carrying out violence against women in the name of the group.

For example, on or about February 7, 2021, SANCHEZ posted online a video with a caption including “INCEL ARMY RISE UP.”  The video depicts SANCHEZ yelling at two women walking on a street in Manhattan that SANCHEZ has “Incel rage”; that he supports Incel’s unofficial founder, Elliot Rodger, who attacked a sorority house and pedestrians in California in 2014, killing six victims and injuring 14 others; and that Rodger’s victims “deserved to be run over and hit by a truck.  They deserved to be slaughtered.”[1]  On or about March 20, 2021, SANCHEZ posted another video filmed in Manhattan, which depicts SANCHEZ approaching multiple women at an outdoor seating area.  In the video, SANCHEZ again proclaimed his support for Incels and Elliot Rodger, while making hand gestures mimicking pointing a gun.  After multiple individuals attempted to get SANCHEZ to stop, SANCHEZ sprayed pepper spray in the face of one of those individuals.  SANCHEZ was arrested by responding law enforcement officers and charged with state offenses, and was thereafter released on bail.          

On or about February 13, 2021, SANCHEZ posted a video that depicts him perpetrating a hoax bomb threat at a restaurant in Manhattan’s Flatiron neighborhood.  The video shows SANCHEZ approaching an outdoor seating area in front of the restaurant and stating:  “Let’s enhance their meal.”  SANCHEZ then positioned himself close to two women seated at one of the tables, and conveyed that he was about to detonate a bomb. SANCHEZ loudly stated:  “Allahu Akbar.  Allahu Akbar.  Bomb detonation in two, in two minutes.  I take you with me and I kill all you.  I kill all you right now.  And I kill all you for Allah. . . .  I’m gonna do it.  I’m gonna fucking do it for Allah.  I’m gonna do it, for, Allah, Allah, Allahu Akbar, Come on.  I do it, bomb now, bomb now.”  The two women appeared startled, gathered their belongings, and went into the restaurant; approximately four other individuals in the seating area grabbed their belongings and ran away.  SANCHEZ then stated:  “Yo, all of them scattered” and “Holy shit boys.  That was fucking five stars.  That was five stars.”  At least one individual called 911 in connection with the bomb threat, and law enforcement responded to the scene.  By that point, SANCHEZ had left the area.

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SANCHEZ, 19, of New York, New York, pled guilty to one count of conveying false and misleading information and hoaxes, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1038, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.  The maximum potential penalty is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge.

SANCHEZ is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge McMahon on February 8, 2022, at 3:00 p.m.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) New York Joint Terrorism Task Force, which consists of investigators and analysts from the FBI, the New York City Police Department, and over 50 other federal, state, and local agencies.

The case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit.  Assistant United States Attorney Kaylan E. Lasky is in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Trial Attorney Elisabeth Poteat of the Counterterrorism Section of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division.


[1] Statements discussed and quoted herein are described in substance and in part.


Nicholas Biase, James Margolin
(212) 637-2600

Updated November 12, 2021

Press Release Number: 21-320