Friday 18 October 2019

Terrorist attack on synagogue failed when 3D-printed gun jammed


People lay flowers outside the synagogue in Halle. Photo: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
People lay flowers outside the synagogue in Halle. Photo: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Justin Huggler

The far-right terror attack on a crowded synagogue in Germany failed in part because the gunman apparently used a 3D printer to build a British-designed gun that jammed repeatedly, it emerged yesterday.

Sebastian Balliet, a 27-year-old German national, was formally charged yesterday over the attack in which he killed two people but failed to get inside a packed synagogue where he planned to massacre more than 50 Jewish worshippers.

"We barely escaped a terrible attack on the people in the synagogue," Angela Merkel, the German chancellor said yesterday. "There could have been many more victims."

An online manifesto in which Balliet announced his attack on the synagogue in Halle a week in advance suggested he wanted to inspire copycats.

But video footage he filmed with a headcam and live streamed during the attack showed that far from being meticulously planned, it was a catalogue of errors. "Once a loser, always a loser," Balliet says of himself at one point.

His manifesto details the weapons he planned to use, including a homemade 9mm submachine gun built to designs posted online by Philip Luty, a pro-gun activist from Yorkshire who died in 2011. Although the Luty gun is designed to be made entirely from parts that can be bought at a DIY store, Balliet's manifesto indicates he used a 3D printer.

The homemade weapon proved ineffective and jammed several times. "At least I've proved homemade weapons are useless," he says in the live-streamed video footage.

Balliet had 4kg of homemade explosives in his car, according to prosecutors, but they too proved ineffective. After failing to blast his way into the synagogue, he turned his gun on a passing woman before moving on to a kebab shop where he shot a customer.

The footage and manifesto make clear his anti-Semitic views. It came as senior German politicians yesterday accused the Alternative for Germany party of fostering a climate of anti-Semitism. Jorg Meuthen, joint leader of the party, denied the charges and said: "Jewish life in Germany is part of our identity."

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