Munich update

The 18 year old boy who murdered nine people in Munich yesterday does not seem to have had any ties to nor to have drawn any inspiration from any jihadi terror groups like al-Qaeda or ISIS. If anything, he may have drawn inspiration from the Anders Breivik case, though that connection is still mostly speculation based on the fact that yesterday was the fifth anniversary of Breivik’s attacks in Oslo. The murderer does appear to have suffered from some psychiatric issues, though again its too early to say that those caused his actions yesterday. The only solid piece of evidence so far seems to be that the killer was deeply interested in mass shootings:

Following a police search of the attacker’s room, where a book on teenage shooting sprees was discovered, Munich police chief Hubertus Andrae all but ruled out an Islamist militant link to the attack.

“Based on the searches, there are no indications whatsoever that there is a connection to Islamic State” or to the issue of refugees, he told a news conference.

“Documents on shooting sprees were found, so the perpetrator obviously researched this subject intensively.”

The gunman was born and brought up in the Munich area and had spent time in psychiatric care, and there was no evidence to suggest he had had an accomplice, Andrae said.

The killer apparently lured victims to a McDonald’s with the promise of free food and then shot them. Seven of the victims were teenagers and it’s possible he was specifically targeting young people (suggestions that the shooter had been a bullying victim have also been brought up). He later shot himself, which in itself circumstantially argues against his having been steeped in ISIS-inspired ideology (ISIS and ISIS-inspired attackers tend to die either by bomb or by cop, while committing some kind of action that causes the deaths of others in the process, genuine suicide being strictly proscribed in Islam).

At this point not only does this attack not appear to be related to Islamic terrorism, it doesn’t even appear to be terrorism at all. Yes there’s the Breivik anniversary, but that’s very circumstantial. There are also the reports that the killer shouted anti-immigrant slogans as he was shooting, but other reports have him shouting “Allahu Akbar,” which (if both are true) makes for a muddled message (and may reflect that he was simply deranged). A high proportion of his victims were immigrants: three Turks, three Kosovar Albanians, and a Greek–but, again, very circumstantial.

Terrorism doesn’t have to involve Islam, but it does have to have a political motive. If this guy carried out his attack in an homage to Breivik, then it’s terrorism. If it turns out he was motivated by jihadi sentiments, then it’s terrorism. If this was simply a disturbed spree shooter, then it’s probably not terrorism.


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