Stephan Balliet is the suspect in an anti-Semitic attack on a synagogue and a shooting at a Turkish kebab shop in Halle, Germany, that left two people dead and two others injured on October 9, 2019, Bild reports. The German newspaper has identified Balliet as a neo-Nazi.
Balliet was streaming live video on Twitch for 35 minutes during the incident in the east German city. Heavy has watched the video but is not posting it in this report. The video shows Balliet was not able to get into the synagogue, where about 70 people were inside for Yom Kippur services. The 27-year-old gunman was wearing a helmet equipped with a camera, was dressed in a military- or police-style uniform and was armed with multiple long rifles. The video shows he had ammunition and possible explosive devices inside his car.
He also posted a manifesto that was spread by white supremacists on the messaging app Telegram. In the PDF, Balliet said his mission was to, “kill as many anti-whites as possible, Jews preferred,” according to extremist researcher Rita Katz of the SITE Intelligence Group.
Yom Kippur is Judaism’s holiest day. Prior to his attempt to enter the synagogue, Balliet addressed his camera during the live stream and made anti-Semitic remarks in English. Police said there was only one shooter in the incident after earlier reports indicated there were possibly two gunmen.
Balliet was taken into custody by police after fleeing from the scene. He also expressed anti-feminist views in the video. The shooting has drawn comparisons to the Christchurch mosque massacre that occurred on March 15, 2019. The gunman in that New Zealand attack also expressed far-right views and live-streamed the attack. In that shooting, 51 people were killed. The shooter posted his video on Facebook.
After the Halle shooting, Twitch, a site primarily used by video gamers to live stream as the play, issued a statement to Buzzfeed News saying, “We are shocked and saddened by the tragedy that took place in Germany today, and our deepest condolences go out to all those affected. Twitch has a zero-tolerance policy against hateful conduct, and any act of violence is taken extremely seriously. We are working with urgency to remove this content and permanently suspend any accounts found to be posting or reporting content of this abhorrent act.”
Here’s what you need to know about Stephan Balliet and the Halle, Germany, attack:
1. Balliet, Who Called Himself ‘Anon’ in the Video, Expressed Anti-Semitic Views, Blaming Jews for the World’s Problems & Falsely Denying the Holocaust Occurred
Stephan Balliet called himself “anon” in the video he live-streamed online, according to an archive of the 35-minute live stream seen by Heavy. Balliet addresses the camera early in the video and speaks in English about his motive for the attempted attack on the synagogue.
Balliet tells viewers that he thinks the Holocaust never happened. He also says feminism and mass immigration are causing the world’s problems and says Jewish people are “at the root” of those problems. His reasons for the attack echo those of the Pittsburgh synagogue gunman, the Christchurch mosque shooter, the Poway synagogue attacker and the El Paso Walmart gunman.
“According to the current state of knowledge, we must assume that it is at least an anti-Semitic attack,” Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said, according to Bild. “According to the federal prosecutor there are sufficient indications for a possible right-wing extremist motive.”
Balliet can be seen driving to the synagogue while listening to Future’s “Mask Off,” and preparing his weapons for the attempted attack. Other than his first introduction, Balliet speaks in German throughout most of the video.
2. He Is From Saxony-Anhalt, the German State That Includes the City of Halle, Where He Lived Alone With His Mother
Balliet is a resident of Saxony-Anhalt, the German state that includes the city of Halle, according to Der Spiegel. He is 27 and lives a “secluded life” alone with his mother, the newspaper reports.
No other information about Balliet’s background has been made available so far. Spiegel reports that Balliet was not previously known to police.
Rita Katz, the director of the SITE Intelligence Group, said a manifesto written by Balliet was posted online before the shooting and distributed by sympathizers on Telegram, a messaging app. The document shows that he first started working on it on October 1. That, along with the weapons and explosive devices found in his car, and the gear he was wearing, show he had been planning the attack for some time.
Katz said he posted photos of his weapons. She wrote, “This manifesto document, which appears to have been created a week ago on October 1, gives yet more indication how much planning and preparation Stephan Balliet put into his attack. His self-made weapons give further suggestion of this.”
According to Der Spiegel, Balliet rented the Volkswagen Golf hatchback that he used to drive to the synagogue.
Twitch, the Amazon-subsidiary video streaming site where the video was posted, has said it is cooperating in the investigation. On Twitter, the company wrote, “We’re continuing to investigate the Halle event and would like to share what we’ve uncovered. The account owner streamed this horrific act live on Twitch for 35 minutes, during which time it was viewed by approximately five people.”
According to Twitch:
A recording of the stream, which was automatically generated based on the account’s settings, was viewed by approximately 2200 people in the 30 minutes before the video was flagged and removed from Twitch. This account was created about two months prior to streaming the shooting and had attempted to stream only once before.
This video was not surfaced in any recommendations or directories; instead, our investigation suggests that people were coordinating and sharing the video via other online messaging services. Once the video was removed, we shared the hash with an industry consortium to help prevent the proliferation of this content. We take this extremely seriously and are committed to working with industry peers, law enforcement, and any relevant parties to protect our community.
The company added, “Twitch has a zero-tolerance policy against hateful conduct, and any act of violence is taken extremely seriously. We worked with urgency to remove this content and will permanently suspend any accounts found to be posting or reposting content of this abhorrent act. We are shocked and saddened by the tragedy that took place in Germany today, and our deepest condolences go out to all those affected.”
3. Balliet Was Unable to Get Into the Synagogue Because of Its Gate & Then Shot at Pedestrians & People at a Turkish Kebab Shop, the Video Shows
The live stream shows Balliet attempting to get into the synagogue for several minutes. Officials said about 70 to 80 people were inside for Yom Kippur, the holiest day of Judaism. According to U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, 10 Americans were inside the synagogue. No one inside the synagogue was injured or killed.
Balliet yells in German and becomes increasingly frustrated as he is unable to enter the building because he cannot get through the gate. At one point, Balliet fires shots at the gate, but is still unable to open it.
While trying to get into the synagogue, Balliet shot a woman who was walking down the street. After spending about 10 minutes in the area near the synagogue, Balliet can be seen driving to another part of the city, where he stops at a Turkish kebab shop.
The live stream video shows Balliet walking past a woman outside of the kebab shop and then firing at a worker inside. Balliet shot and killed a man inside the kebab shop and then left, walking outside, before returning and firing at the man’s body.
After exiting the kebab shop a second time, Balliet can be seen exchanging gunfire with police and he appears to be shot. As he flees again in his car, Balliet looks into the camera and blood can be seen on his neck.
According to police, Balliet is believed to have thrown at least one grenade or another device into the Jewish synagogue’s cemetery before leaving that area.
In the video, Balliet can be heard calling himself a “loser.”
4. He Was Arrested After Stealing a Taxi & Fleeing on Highway, Bild Reports
According to Bild, Balliet fled from the area of the shooting in his own car. About 1:30 p.m. local time, Balliet drove to a business in Landsberg, in Wiedersdorf, and demanded a car from the workers inside, Bild reports. When they told him that there was no car there, he pointed to a taxi parked outside and demanded it, the newspaper reports.
An electrician at the workshop then came out and was startled by what was happening, Bild reports. He told Balliet he couldn’t have the taxi, and Balliet opened fire, shooting the man. He was hospitalized but is expected to survive.
According to Bild, Balliet then took the taxi and fled on the A9 highway and onto B91. He was rammed by a truck in Werschen and then taken into custody, Bild reports. It is not clear if Balliet was injured.
5. Balliet’s Live Stream Video Was Quickly Spread Across Far-Right, Neo-Nazi & White Supremacist Channels Online Despite Being Taken Down by Twitch
The live stream video posted by Balliet was taken down by Twitch, but was spread by white supremacists, neo-Nazis and others on the far right through other channels, including the encrypted messaging app Telegram, NBC News reports. Many in those communities have been praising Balliet in a similar was as the Christchurch shooter, and other gunmen inspired by him, calling him a hero and “saint.”
Megan Squire, an Elon University professor who tracks online extremism, told NBC News, “There is absolutely a trend toward using Telegram to spread this kind of stuff as propaganda.”
Rita Katz, the director of the SITE Intelligence group, which tracks extremism, wrote on Twitter, “The similarity between this video and New Zealand attacker’s underscores that these are not isolated attacks by people merely holding similar beliefs. Today’s attack is another installment from a global terrorist network, linked together via online safe havens much like ISIS.”
She tweeted, “Attacker identifies as “Anon,” meaning “anonymous user”—a nod to chan boards & other sites. Based on this vid, he appears to have worked alone. His car was loaded w seemingly homemade weapons along w laptop and camera, suggesting a disturbing degree of planning behind his attack.
Katz added, “As horrific as the attack was, several variables (his seeming panic, locked door at synagogue, poor function of weapons) stopped it from resulting in something far deadlier, especially considering how many were presumably in the synagogue for Yom Kippur & his abundant weapons.”