A far-right rapper whose song was used as the soundtrack to a livestreamed attack on a synagogue has been arrested in Austria for inciting hatred and promoting Nazi ideology.
The 36-year-old, who released music online under the name “Mr Bond,” had built a fanbase among neo-Nazis worldwide for his dozens of parody versions of popular songs, typically hip hop tracks, rewritten with virulently racist white power lyrics. Austrian authorities announced Tuesday that the man – whom they did not identify by name – had been arrested during a raid on his home in the southern region of Carinthia last month, during which weapons, Nazi memorabilia and hard disks were recovered.
“He’s like a far-right Weird Al Yankovic,” Nicholas Potter, a researcher at German anti-racist group Amadeu Antonio Foundation told VICE World News.
“He took Scorpions’ ‘Winds of Change’ and made ‘Winds of Adolf,’ he took the Bloodhound Gang and made ‘The Mosque Is On Fire’.”
Potter said the music clearly incited hate and would have a radicalising effect on listeners. “These are basically violent fantasies communicated through music.”
Vienna-based freelance journalist Christof Mackinger said the rapper had gained fans in online neo-Nazi networks worldwide, especially in the U.S. and Scandinavia.
“Fascists found it a lot of fun the way he talked about their political enemies,” he told VICE World News, adding that the lyrics were staggeringly racist and clearly produced by a deeply radicalised individual.
“He had a lot of neo-Nazi humour which they seemed to like.”
The rapper gained further notoriety in online neo-Nazi circles when one of his songs, a reworking of Future’s “Mask Off,” was played during gunman Stephan Balliet’s livestreamed attack on a synagogue in the German town of Halle in October 2019. Balliet, seeking to emulate Christchurch far-right terrorist Brenton Tarrant, failed to force his way into the synagogue, where 52 worshippers were marking Yom Kippur, and instead shot dead two members of the public nearby.
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Mackinger, who has been researching the online activities of “Mr Bond” for two years, said the neo-Nazi rapper was excited when news broke of the Halle rampage, posting on a far-right messageboard: “A German is doing a Tarrant?” He was initially thrilled to learn that the Halle gunman had played his Future rip-off – with the lyrics: “Rep the fash / Gotta rep the fash” – during the attack, but later expressed disdain towards him for failing to kill any Jews.
During his trial last year, Balliet said he had picked the track as a “commentary” on the attack.
Mackinger said the neo-Nazi rapper was part of a global online network of radicalised young men who idolised the recent wave of far-right shooting attacks, from Germany to the U.S. to New Zealand. “They treat it like an online game, and by this measure Tarrant was the winner,” he said.
The Christchurch mass killer was “like a god” to “Mr Bond”, who referred to him as a “saint,” said Mackinger. The rapper had a track called “I Need a Tarrant,” and had translated the terrorist’s manifesto into German, while encouraging others online to carry out copycat attacks themselves.
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Potter said “Mr Bond” – who released his work pseudonymously online, usually in English – was distinct from a recent wave of far-right German-language hip hop acts, who were building modest careers and pumping their earnings back into building far-right networks.
Thorsten Hindrichs, a musicologist at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz who specialises in far-right music subcultures, said the rise of far-right hip hop had sparked debate within the German neo-Nazi scene, which traditionally gravitated to metal genres, over whether they could accept politically-charged music based on a Black musical tradition.
“It’s ideologically hard for them to incorporate hip hop into the white power scene,” he told VICE World News.
“There are very strange strategies of attempting to legitimise hip hop in the German white power scene. One is saying we don’t adopt the subculture, but the technique and the style, because it’s popular.”
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Mackinger said that as news of “Mr Bond’s” arrest spread through far-right online networks Wednesday, some fans credited him with playing a role in their radicalisation.
“There were some people saying ‘I love this guy, free Mr Bond, he’s the one who redpilled me.’ For some people he seemed to be very important.
“Most of them won’t go out and shoot people, but as we’ve seen in Christchurch and Halle, even one is far too much.”