Last night, a gunman murdered nine people in two shisha bars in the town of Hanau, near Frankfurt, in Germany.
The suspected killer also took his own life and the life of his 72-year old mother at his home. Five others have been injured.
Police are treating the incident as domestic terror attack, and evidence is emerging that indicates that the killer was motivated by extreme far-right views. A German-language manifesto, which appears to have been written at least a month prior to the attack, was released on the suspect’s personal website, written from the perspective of a trained banker in his early 40s.
Islamophobia, Antisemitism and Conspiracy Theories
Delusional conspiracy theories are central to the rambling document, which is addressed to a “secret service”. The manifesto contains Islamophobic passages and directs hate towards Turkish and North African immigrants, and expresses the desire to annihilate the peoples of a number of Middle Eastern, Asian and North African countries. It also contains numerous allusions to antisemitic conspiracy theories, with a section dedicated to the malign influence of Hollywood as well as a “shadow government” controlling the US.
In an English-language video the suspect broadcasted “a personal message to all Americans”, in which he claims that the country is run by a secret society and stresses their duty to “gather masses of people together and storm” secret underground military bases. The suspect’s website also contains links to a number of conspiracy theory, UFO and paranormal content websites.
The manifesto dedicates a section to discussing women, and whilst initial analysis by researchers has suggested the author identifies with the ‘incel’ community which has been tied to other attacks, it appears closer to the ‘Men Going Their Own Way’ or ‘MGTOW’ online subculture.
MGTOWs reject, or greatly minimise, interaction with women rather than see themselves as “involuntarily” being rejected by women, as incels do. The author describes how, because he believes he is under surveillance, he has chosen not to enter into a relationship, though how much this is a result of an antipathy towards women as well, as motivates MGTOWs, is unclear.
The document also includes passages about his early life and his relationship with mother, which are disturbing in light of his apparent actions.
The attack carries both similarities and significant differences from the string of far-right terror attacks that have struck western countries over the last year and a-half.
The shooter released a manifesto online, and expressed clear ideas about race and immigration inline with those previous attackers. However, concrete evidence that the shooter spent time in far-right image boards is yet to appear, unlike the Halle, Poway, Christchurch and El Paso killers. He has not explicitly referenced previous far-right terrorists as an inspiration for the attack. His emphasis on paranormal and UFOlogist conspiracy theories also sets him apart.
Far-right terrorism is a growing threat, and yet again, families are grieving the loss of loved ones to terrorism. Our hearts go out to all those affected by this senseless and cowardly attack.