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German media report gunman "targeted migrants" at two cafes

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TRT World Now 20.2.2020 At least five Turkish citizens are reportedly among the victims killed in a terror attack in Germany on Wednesday night. The 43-year-old German man identified by authorities …More
TRT World Now 20.2.2020 At least five Turkish citizens are reportedly among the victims killed in a terror attack in Germany on Wednesday night. The 43-year-old German man identified by authorities as the gunman also appeared to be obsessed with America, and with American conspiracy theories, according to online video and documents German police are investigating in connection with the attack.

One video, posted to YouTube under the same name as the website containing the gunman’s manifesto, described a conspiracy about the abuse and torture of children in secret locations in America.

Experts in global extremism said the comments paralleled several recent conspiracies popular with American far-right, including the “Pizzagate” conspiracy, which prompted an American gunman to invade a popular pizza restaurant in Washington, DC, in 2016, believing that it was the centre of a secret child abuse ring run by high-ranking Democratic politicians. In that incident, the gunman fired his military-style rifle inside the restaurant, but no one was injured.
The Hanau attack is evidence that “conspiracy theories that are circulated by Americans in the United States, and through message boards that are predominantly American, do have an impact in other places,” said Dr Joan Donovan, a expert in technology and online extremism at Harvard University.

While no early evidence emerged linking the alleged Hanau attacker to established extremist groups or individuals, analysts said that both the online manifesto and the nine people the gunman chose to murder made it clear that his attack was part of a ongoing pattern of white supremacist terror.

“He targeted particular places where he knew he would find migrants,” said Marilyn Mayo, a senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. “In his actions, he went to target the groups that he thought were detrimental to Germany and destroying German society and culture.”

The nine people killed at two different shisha bars in Hanau were all from immigrant backgrounds, many of them Turkish nationals. Early reports suggested that one of the victims may have been a 35-year-old pregnant mother, and that employees at the bars targeted were also among the dead. People of Turkish background make up Germany’s single largest ethnic minority.

German authorities have described the gunman as being motivated by a “deeply racist mindset,” and are investigating the shootings as an act of domestic terrorism.

The author of the online postings associated with the attack “talked about the achievements of the German people versus nonwhite immigrants,” and “crimes committed by nonwhite immigrants,” including how “Germans who are complacent about it are part of the problem,” Mayo said. This fixation on “crimes committed by nonwhite immigrants” is a central preoccupation of mainstream racist politicians in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Europe, as well as previous white nationalist killers.

“What we have occurring now is white supremacy integrated on a global scale,” said Brian Levin, the director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

The internet has helped “nationalist” extremists connect across borders and find common cause, advancing “the idea that if you act on and commit violence in one country, it’s for the good of the white race globally,” Donovan, the Harvard expert on online extremism, said.

Unlike the manifestos associated with previous white power attacks, the online postings being investigated in relation to the Hanau murders are rambling, with references to mind control and persistent delusions, and no direct homages to previous white nationalist attacks or attackers.
Experts noted that the online Hanau manifesto also included a description of the writer’s feelings of alienation from women and inability to find a partner, echoing misogynistic talking points made by the perpetrators of recent mass murders targeting women in the United States and Canada. Like many American mass shootings, the Hanau attack has a link to domestic violence: authorities said the shooter went home and shot his mother to death before killing himself.

Levin, the director of the Center for the Study of Extremism, said that many perpetrators of “mass symbolic violence” have multiple factors driving them, some primary and some secondary, including ideological motivations, revenge or personal benefit, and emotional or psychological problems.