Germany: Neo-Nazi kills two people near synagogue and kebab place, motivated by antisemitism and right-wing extremism
Yesterday in the eastern city of Halle, Germany there were at least two shooting incidents with fatal consequences. The target of the first attack was a local synagogue where people were celebrating the most important Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement).
The target of the subsequent attack was a fast-food kebab place of the kind that are frequently run in Germany by people with Arab or Turkish roots. The perpetrator, whom police arrested shortly thereafter, was 27-year old Stephan B, a German citizen, according to Der Spiegel magazine.
Based on the video that the shooter filmed while perpetrating the attack, police believe he was motivated by antisemitism and right-wing extremism, and a "manifesto" posted online which the perpetrator likely authored also gives that impression. Using explosives and firearms, the attacker did his best to force his way into the synagogue, which held as many as 80 people at the time of the attack.
"The perpetrator fired twice into the doors and threw multiple Molotov cocktails, explosives and shells to get inside. The doors remained closed, though, God protected us," the president of the local Jewish community, Mr Privorozki, said.
"The entire thing lasted maybe five to 10 minutes," he said. He described to the Stuttgarter Zeitung newspaper how the congregants reacted when they realized the suspicious man was approaching the synagogue: "We barricaded the doors and waited for the police."
The attacker was wearing a steel helmet and Privorozki said he looked like a member of a special forces unit. The perpetrator attempted to break into the cemetery, firing at its gates as well.
He then shot one woman dead outside the synagogue who was apparently a random passer-by. The congregants hiding in the synagogue did not exit the building until the early evening, accompanied by special police units.
Police officers first had to deal with the explosives the perpetrator had apparently manufactured himself and laid at the door to the synagogue. The Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reported that a 36-minute-long video recording, made by the perpetrator, shows him shooting a woman at point-blank range after his attack on the synagogue fails, and some time later shows him shooting a man in the fast-food place nearby.
According to the public television station ARD, the perpetrator broadcast the video through the Internet, just as the shooter in Christchurch, New Zealand did in March when he murdered 51 people in two different mosques. In the video from Halle, the attacker speaks English with a German accent.
He alleges, among other things, that the Holocaust - the murder of six million Jews by Nazi Germany for which today's Federal Republic of Germany also feels responsible - never happened. He also claims in the video that feminism has led to a declining birth rate, which is why immigration is happening in what he calls a massive scale.
The shooter also says he believes Jews are behind all of these problems. Other video footage of the attack filmed by eyewitnesses shows a masked attacker wearing a helmet who calmly gets out of a car and begins firing a weapon that he has to reload after each shot.
Süddeutsche Zeitung reports that the attacker apparently either made the weapon himself or adapted one for use. From the shooter's own video it is apparent that his equipment breaks down after he fires at a police vehicle.
"I have finally shown how worthless improvised weapons are," he declares in his own video. "All the weapons failed."
Rita Katz, the head of the SITE Intelligence Group which monitors the Internet activities of jihadists and right-wing extremists, tweeted that the author of the "manifesto" posted online wrote that he wanted to kill as many "enemies of the whites" as possible, whom he mainly identifies as Jews. Other possible targets mentioned in the "manifesto" are Muslims and left-wingers.
That document includes photographs of firearms, munitions and explosives that are partially homemade and were actually used by the gunman in Halle. Der Spiegel reports that the document, which was apparently created on 1 October, was assessed as authentic by detectives upon their initial review of it because of those photographs.
Many German politicians have responded to the attack with outrage. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tweeted: "Our hearts are broken that somebody shot at a synagogue on Yom Kippur."
"Everybody in our country must stand up to antisemitism," Maas tweeted. German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer also called the attack antisemitic.
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