Daniel Koehler
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The Halle, Germany, Synagogue Attack and the Evolution of the Far-Right Terror Threat

Combating Terrorism Center at West Point

Abstract

On October 9, 2019, 27-year-old Stephan Balliet allegedly attempted to forcibly enter the Jewish community center and synagogue in the eastern German town of Halle (Saale) and execute a mass shooting livestreamed online. It is alleged that after failing to enter the building, he randomly shot a woman who happened to be passing by and moved to a Turkish restaurant as a secondary target, where he shot and killed a second victim. Balliet appears to be mainly a copycat attacker inspired by previous incidents involving the posting of a manifesto and online livestreaming, such as the shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March 2019; Poway, California, in April 2019; and El Paso, Texas, in August 2019. The Halle attack reflects and evidences several trends, including the internationalization of right-wing terrorism and lone-actor terrorists fashioning their own weapons. The attack stood out because it was the first time a terrorist appears to have used homemade firearms.