German leaders were on Thursday to visit the scene of a deadly anti-Semitic gun attack carried out on the holy day of Yom Kippur, as Jews demanded action to protect the community from the rising threat of neo-Nazi violence.
The rampage was streamed live for 35 minutes on Twitch, and eventually seen by some 2,200 people, the online platform said, in a chilling reminder of the mosque attack in Christchurch, New Zealand in March that was also played out online in real-time.
Two people were shot dead in the eastern German city of Halle on Wednesday, with a synagogue among the targets. The suspect, identified by media as 27-year-old German Stephan Balliet, filmed the assault and streamed it online.
The victims, a man and a woman, were apparently chosen at random when the assailant failed to gain access to the temple he had besieged with gunfire and homemade explosives, as the frightened congregation barricaded itself inside.
Police subsequently captured the suspect after a gun battle that left him wounded.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel joined a solidarity vigil at a historic synagogue in central Berlin late on Wednesday, and firmly condemned the anti-Semitic rampage.
But Jewish leaders said that words were not enough, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joining calls for German authorities to “act resolutely against the phenomenon of anti-Semitism”.
Video of the deadly shooting in was easily accessible on 4chan, BitChute and other sites on Thursday, attracting tens of thousands of views, despite efforts by tech companies to curb the spread of violent content.
Roughly 24 hours after the attack, video and links to an anti-Semitic “manifesto” published a week earlier by the gunman were also still available online using a simple keyword search on popular anonymous online forum 4chan.
Rita Katz, the director of Site, which tracks the online activity of extremist groups, said on Twitter that a PDF document, apparently the gunman’s manifesto, had surfaced online showing “pictures of the weapons and ammunition he used”.
It also referenced his live stream as well as his objective to kill “anti-whites”, including Jews.
“This manifesto document, which appears to have been created a week ago on October 1, gives yet more indication of how much planning and preparation” the gunman put into the attack, she said.
German newspaper Die Welt reported that the text, which is about 10 pages long and written in English, specifically mentions the plan to attack the synagogue in Halle during Yom Kippur.
The assailant’s 35-minute video was originally livestreamed on Twitch, owned by Amazon.
Twitch said it was viewed live by just five users and a recording was seen by 2,200 people before it was flagged and removed.
But the full video was still available on Thursday on multiple sites promoting violent and sexual content.
Two video links found by AFP had been viewed more than 90,000 times, according to the sites’ visitor counters.
One of them, BitChute, is a video-hosting service that enables peer-to-peer sharing.
It has become popular with the global “alt-right” as it avoids content restrictions on social media platforms like YouTube by relying on user donations rather than advertising.
BitChute has hosted content from prominent conspiracy theorists who have been banned from YouTube, including US vlogger David Seaman, who promoted conspiracies about the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Users of 4chan have also repeatedly shared links to the full video from Halle since it was first uploaded on Wednesday.
One 4chan user posted a link to a downloadable copy of the gunman’s manifesto and the full video – with English subtitles added.
“After seeing a lot of non-German speaking anons always asking for what is being said in the Halle Synagogue Shooting Video,” they wrote, “I decide to translate it with subtitles.”
But the video was not readily available on Thursday on mainstream social networking platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.
This is in contrast to the livestreamed footage of the Christchurch mosque shootings in March, which was continually re-uploaded to these platforms despite a concerted effort to remove it.
After the Christchurch attacks, governments and tech companies including Amazon signed up to a partnership known as the Call, which aims to eradicate extremism and terrorism online.
“Amazon joined the Christchurch Call in New York, so the incident protocol that we’ve developed has kicked in,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said after the Halle attack.
“Companies are communicating as I understand with one other to ensure that that video does not spread online,” Arden said.