In Brief

Germany shooting: far-right extremist behind deadly attack

Suspect who shot 10 people dead railed against ethnic minorities on far-right website

A far-right extremist carried out the attacks on two shisha bars in western Germany that left at least nine people dead.

The attacker, identified by German media as 43-year-old German citizen Tobias Rathjen, ran a website on which he criticised ethnic minorities.

He claimed that people of African, Asian and Middle Eastern origins have to be “completely annihilated” within Germany, writing: “If there was a button available that would make this become a reality, I would press it in a flash.”

Federal prosecutors in the west German city have been treating the case as terrorism, with some of those killed believed to be of Turkish and Kurdish origin.

German tabloid Bild reports that the alleged killer also left behind a confession.

On the site, taken offline in the hours since the attack, Rathjen had uploaded a 24-page text in which he tells his life story, The Guardian says. He claimed that he was being controlled by mind-readers working for an unnamed “intelligence agency”.

King’s College London counter-terrorism expert Peter Neumann tweeted that the website contained “various, but mostly extreme right views, with a do-it-yourself ideology cobbled together out of parts found on the internet”.

Neumann also said that a preliminary reading of the suspect’s website suggests that as well as possessing a hatred of “foreigners and non-white (people)”, Rathjen was also likely a so-called “incel”.

The Guardian adds that in his rambling statement, Rathjen also claims to have invented the slogan “America First”.

In the days before the attack, he had uploaded an English-language video to YouTube in which he said Americans are being controlled by devil-worshipping “secret societies”, the paper reports.

Alongside those who lost their lives, several people were injured when the gunman opened fire at 10pm local time yesterday evening, before he was later found dead in his flat alongside the body of his mother, whom he is also thought to have murdered. 

The suicide and suspected murder of his mother takes the total death toll to 11.

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The first target was the Midnight shisha bar in the city centre of Hanau, the BBC reports, and the suspect then reportedly travelled in a dark car to the Kesselstadt neighbourhood and opened fire at the Arena Bar & Cafe.

Hanau’s federal MP, Katja Leikert, called the attack a “horrific scenario” in a tweet in which she offered her “heartfelt condolences” to the victims. The mayor of the town, Claus Kaminsky, said it was the “worst evening imaginable”.

The BBC reports that gun laws in Germany are among the most stringent in the world, and were tightened further in recent years after other mass shootings, such as in the cities of Halle and Munich.

That the attack took place in the old West Germany will fuel concerns that extremism that has largely been confined to the former East Germany is spreading. 

Traditionally, Germany’s far right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) has performed strongly in the east, which has also been the site of anti-immigrant protests.

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