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How the Germany Synagogue Shooter’s Manifesto Follows the Far-Right Playbook

The document was in English, not his native tongue, in an apparent goal of reaching as wide an audience as possible.

by Tess Owen
Oct 10 2019, 5:00pm

A so-called manifesto apparently linked to the German synagogue shooter started circulating on far-right social media Wednesday evening, hours after he’d killed two people in an attempted attack on Jewish worshippers observing Yom Kippur in Halle.

The 11-page document echoes those of the El Paso and other recent shooters. And like parts of the gunman's live-stream of the attack, the document was in English, not his native tongue, in an apparent goal of reaching as wide an audience as possible.

The man has been identified by German authorities as 27-year-old Stephan Balliet, who led a reclusive life and lived alone with his mother, according to Der Spiegel. He drove 45 minutes from his home to Halle and went up to the synagogue door as services were underway inside with about 75 people. But when he was unable to break down the door, he left and ultimately ended up killing a woman in the street, and later, a man working in a nearby kebab shop.

It’s not clear when he posted the manifesto, but it laid out three objectives: providing the “viability” of improvised weapons, inspiring others by spreading the footage of the attack, and killing as “many anti-whites as possible.”

The document puts the gunman within a growing recent tradition of violent far-right extremists around the world, who seek to inspire future attacks by adding to a library of manifestos or footage of past attacks.

The Norweigian neo-Nazi who killed 77 people in 2011 wrote a 1,518-page document that has since been cited as an inspiration by other far-right terrorists. That document also contained advice on how to prepare for an attack and select targets. The Australian white nationalist who killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March published an 87-page screed before his deadly attack titled “The Great Replacement,” which is the same name as a white nationalist conspiracy theory. The Californian who opened fire on a synagogue in Poway, killing one, also published a manifesto online — as did the man who killed 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, in August.

The German synagogue shooter’s manifesto devotes nine pages to laying out his plan of attack, including images and details about the types of weapons he’d planned to use, such as a homemade submachine gun and other improvised firearms (as well as a sword and hand grenades). Similarly, the El Paso shooter in his manifesto had described the type of ammunition and gun he aspired to use in his attack targeting Latinos.

A section in the German shooter’s manifesto titled “Plan” is filled with violently anti-Semitic language, none of which would be out of place on far-right Telegram channels or forums like 4chan. Some of the slurs he uses are direct references to some of those online communities. He also adds that he’d considered attacking a mosque or an an “antifa cultural center” but ultimately chose to drive 45 minutes to a synagogue.

During a press conference Thursday, German Chief Federal Prosecutor Peter Frank referenced the shooter’s live-stream of the attack, which later appeared on Twitch. In parts of the 30-minute video, the suspect spoke directly to the camera, in English. “Hi, my name is Anon,” he said, using a name that 4chan and 8chan users often call themselves. “I think the Holocaust never happened.” Frank asserted the gunman filmed the attack with the hope of having a global impact and inspiring future attacks. He didn’t say anything about the veracity of the manifesto, but SITE Intelligence, a global security research firm, believes that it’s authentic.

German authorities have labeled Wednesday’s attack as “terror” and are working to determine how the suspect obtained explosives, and whether anyone else knew about his plan. The suspect is currently in hospital and being treated for gunshot wounds to his neck.

Cover: 10 October 2019, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Karlsruhe: A person is brought out of a helicopter by policemen. On 10.10.2019, the Federal Supreme Court is to carry out the detention test of the alleged right-wing extremist Stephan B., who presumably wanted to storm the synagogue in Halle by force of arms and is said to have shot two people. Photo by: Uli Deck/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images