Danger from the Hobby Room
WEAPONS: It is becoming easier and easier to manufacture pistols and rifles with instructions from the Internet and 3-D printers. The Halle assassin also built most of the weapons himself. The hero of this scene was a man named JStark. DER SPIEGEL spoke to him - shortly before his death.
In a barren room there is a 3-D printer on the table, in front of it a man in combat suit poses, his face behind a balaclava, his eyes hidden by mirrored sunglasses. He is holding a machine in his hand. He changes the magazine over and over again, the noises mix with the techno-music with which the video is underlaid. Then he fires several shots - the spectators should see: the weapon from the 3-D printer is functional.
For his fans, this man is a pioneer, an innovator a kind of Elon Musk of the gun freak. He appears on the net under the pseudonym JStark, as the leader of the largest 3-D weapons community. Some of his followers refer to him in internal chats as the father of the community and a hero. His voice sounds young. He is fluent in English with a light accent. JStark enjoys playing the role of a champion. A phantom who is supposedly only interested in his ideals. A man on the side of the disenfranchised who want to be able to defend themselves against the state with armed force if necessary. "Even if it took a lot of shedding of blue to get the right to bear arms, I would do it," he said in an interview with SPIEGEL last year. He is no longer alive.
The Halle assassin had also looked at weapons building instructions from JStark and his accomplice on the Internet. October 9th marks the second anniversary of the terrorist attack. The right-wing extremist wanted to storm a synagogue in Halle an der Saale on the highest Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur, and murder as many Jews as possible. When he failed at the door and the gate, he shot people who were nearby. Two died, further- those who happened to be in the re were injured. The assassin used homemade weapons, too he had one with parts from the 3-D printer. It was his declared aim to prove the reliability of these pistols and to motivate others to replicate them.
For years the barely controllable market of self-made and printed weapons has been growing, largely to the exclusion of the public, guided by video tutorials and meticulous building instructions. It's a nightmare for security agencies. Because the development of ever better materials and the growing networking of online users are constantly opening up new opportunities for crime.
A key figure in this scene was JStark. Together with an accomplice, he had developed the machine gun from the video clip. It should surpass everything that has hitherto been available on the market for weapons from the 3-D printer, both in terms of accuracy and reliability. The weapon, caliber nine millimeters, weighs only 2.1 kilograms. All it takes is a few clicks on the Internet to get the plans, buy them in, and go shopping in an inexpensive 3-D printer to print them or on platforms such as eBay to complete them. This is how you can build a submachine gun at home that can kill many people.
Above all, the community wants to bypass the strict German laws with guns from the printer. In Germany there is precise regulation of who is allowed to acquire firearms: sport shooters or hunters with a gun license. Only licensed gunsmiths and industrial manufacturers are allowed to build firearms. Those who do not adhere to them face up to ten years imprisonment.
There are now tens of thousands who exchange information in forums on the Internet, work on construction plans and post target practice with new types of weapons. The scene is internationally networked and diverse. The gun designers want to break the state monopoly of power. Gun possession is a human right for them, so that they can defend themselves against whomever by force in an emergency. Against the state.
But why do people around the world bother to build firearms themselves at home? Rifles and pistols are in abundance, around a billion there are worldwide, according to a rough estimate by the experts from the Small Arms Survey in Geneva.
In many places, however, access to firearms is not that easy. Or they are too expensive. In civil war-torn countries in Africa, in the Philippines or in the Brazilian underworld, improvised metal firearms have been widespread for a long time. In Europe too, for example in Portugal, criminals often use self-made shotguns.
Others look for weapons on the Darknet, for example the right-wing extremist who shot and injured nine people in and around the Olympia shopping center in Munich in 2016. Although anonymity is great in the dark part of the network, there is also a risk of being exposed Fall for scammers or undercover police officers.
Text pointed at buttstock: In online groups, tens of thousands of internationally distributed Bastier develop increasingly reliable prototypes and exchange detailed building instructions for 3-0 weapons
Text pointed at magazine: Most of the weapons are made of plastic from the 3-D printer. Even the magazine [can] be printed.
Text pointed at barrel: Pressure-sensitive components such as the barrel are made of metal. The model shown here is particularly common. Around the world, the weapon is becoming more and more secure in raids.
The crazy thing is that they can print and assemble the plastic items layer by layer quickly and cheaply. Making firearms has never been easier. And that in the security and anonymity of the The great advantage of 3-D printing for your own four walls,
That was also the plan of the Halle assassin. Just because his firearms weren't working well and were constantly jamming didn't make victims any more. The video that the perpetrator streamed on the Internet can be seen repeatedly aiming at defenseless passers-by and pulling the trigger without a bullet loosening.
Investigation files that are available to SPIEGEL show how meticulously the murderer prepared the crime and which loopholes he used to build an explosives and firearms arsenal in his father's workshop for years under the radar of the security authorities. Long before his act, he began to arm himself out of hatred for migrants, Jews and the German state, which supposedly controls everything - including those who are allowed to own pistols and rifles. The assassin largely developed the construction instructions himself. In addition, he used templates from popular models, the construction plans of which are freely accessible on the Internet.
What the perpetrator needed for his murderous instruments he bought legally on the Internet and in hardware stores, including chemicals for the bombs and ammunition as well as the material for the firearms, for around 100 euros he bought a 3-D printer from China, to make a plastic submachine gun.
His broken chemistry studies helped him mix the explosives and the propellant charge for the ammunition, apart from that he had no prior knowledge of the trade. When he had finished a gun in his father's workshop, he took it with him to his mother's house, where he hid it in the bed drawer in his children's room. It went on like this for years.
[More] than 1,000 rounds of ammunition and around four kilograms of explosives, seven self-made firearms with you. He used three of these weapons. Just before he left, Interriet invited. In fact, the man had his instructions and 3-D models in addition to more equipped with a strange, weak propellant, JStark told SPIEGEL about the products of the Halle assassin. "That may sound awful now, but if he'd worked with us, his weapons would have worked reasonably well," agreed his colleague Ivan. “He's got his ammunition with someone agreed to an interview on condition that they remain anonymous. They declined a face-to-face meeting, which is why there is too much danger that law enforcement officers will track them down. “That would be extremely risky," said JStark. “ The two gun developers talked to each other on Skype.
In fact, the man had his instructions and 3-D models in addition to more information about his ammunition. Otherwise the two of them had a cool, technical look at the murders in Halle. They claimed that they did not like extremists. “We're kicking people out, [they] are openly racist, ” said JStark. In fact, there are hardly any political statements in the chats that Ivan and JStark set up to develop and disseminate their 3-D models. Most of the messages relate exclusively to self-made firearms with a 3-D printer. The pair's view of the Halle murders was a cool, technical one.
Better to refrain from doing anything here. «Or:» People, no politics here, please! «The Halle-Attenat only coffed for little discussion in the digital weapon-making scene. He summarized his attitude in this sentence: no one Even if people are harmed by self-made weapons: Better everyone, including criminals and gangsters, is allowed to own weapons than none. Anyone who still wants to talk about politics is warned: "We should have had such conversations with the perpetrator or his weapon models," said JStark.
With 10,000 members, it is probably the most famous and largest of the scene. Often allowed legally in other network states such as the USA. Or extremists who try to illegally buy weapons for printed craft kits under the radar of the security authorities, which can easily be found. You can already have it installed on the Internet in the USA. In weapon forums and on Telegram, buyers are offering ready-made firearms of the particularly popular JStark model, which is increasingly seized in raids around the world - especially in countries those in which gun laws prevail.
How a 3-D printer converts weapon parts from a computer foreground
The construction plan is read.
1. A wire made of plastic is melted in the heating nozzle and applied to the base plate.
2. The movable nozzle and the base plate build up the workpiece in layers according to the plan.
3. The printing is followed by post-processing by hand. (Support elements are removed and cavities drilled out) Complemented by commercially available metal parts, the individual parts turn into a weapon
In May 2021, police arrested four suspected British right-wing extremists in Keighley, West Yorkshire. Not only are they supposed to have spread terrorist propaganda and shared weapons construction plans, but also operated a 3-D printing workshop.
In September 2020, the Spanish police disbanded an illegal 3-D gun printing workshop in Tenerife and arrested a 55-year-old man on whom they found Nazi memorabilia and chemicals for the manufacture of explosives. The officers came across 19 printed pistol frames, 9 magazines and 2 silencers. Also in the USA and Australia, where in some federal states the possession of 3-D print data for the manufacture of weapons is already a punishable offense, weapons of the new model from JStark have been found several times in the past few years.
In the past two or three years, the development of firearms with the help of 3-D printing has made enormous leaps, says Nic Jenen-Jones of Armament Research Services, a private organization based in Australia, which provides data worldwide to weapons collects and analyzes. The latest hybrid models made of metal and plastic are significantly more powerful than the firearms that the Halle perpetrator used. Even drawn barrels, which increase the accuracy of a weapon, can now be produced relatively easily with the aid of electrochemical processes.
Jenzen-Jones has been keeping an eye on the scene since around 2013. At that time, the US law student Cody Wilson initiated a development that has worried opponents to this day. The Liberator he developed ushered in a new era of self-made weapons. For the first time it was possible to print a firearm with a 3-D printer without expertise and high costs to manufacture plastic. The only bolt that strikes the cartridge to fire it. An ordinary nail did that. Security authorities all over the world were alarmed. Bad Liberator constructions could explode and the last one. But in the past eight years the scene has worked incessantly. Some more complex metal-plastic hybrids require a little more skill, but that too is getting easier every year, says Jen-Jones. Give more models.
A few months after the conversation with SPIEGEL, he suddenly disappeared. In the relevant forums, the scene speculated what happened to its hero vities found themselves in April of this year. His profiles in social networks, messengers and forums have now been deleted. Was it getting too hot for him? Research by SPIEGEL reveals the fate of the gun [enthusiast] - and that the police have long been on the heels of JStark. Metal element was the hit. Much has changed since then. The marksman's hands and eyes turn to new, more stable models. “It won't be a new one for Von JStark.
D., a 28-year-old from Hanover. As can be seen from a confidential note from the Federal Criminal Police Office, German investigators received a message from England in December of last year. A British financial services company provided a reference to a man from Germany who may have been involved in the manufacture and distribution of 3-D firearms. The traces led the investigators to Jacob. Criminologists involved describe D. as an eccentric who had his Turkish first and last name changed two years ago. Last summer he moved from Hanover to a small apartment in Völklingen in Saarland. New name, new city - what induced D. to make a new start remains unclear. Like a “hermit, D. lived in Saarland, alone and secluded,” says an official. After months of investigation, the authorities struck in late June. A special task force stormed his apartment. During the search, the emitters found a 3-D printer, several cell phones, hard drives and a laptop, but no weapons. Jacob D. remained at large.
Jacob D. stayed up From JStark there is no new one, he suddenly went underground. In the scene what happened to her hero. The last traces of his online activities were found in this network in April, messengers and forums have now been deleted. He was set free. Two days after the police action, relatives found his body in a car in front of his parents' apartment in Hanover. Third party debt and suicide could have long been on JStark's heels. a hermit exclude forensic medicine. One can now be increased with the help of electrochemical methods. The autopsy did not reveal the unambiguous cause of death. Investigators now fear that Jacob D. could become a martyr for the net warriors. The circumstances of death could fuel conspiracy myths, says an investigator. There is no doubt that Jacob D. died of natural causes. Since birth, D. had suffered from a weak heart that could have led to death. "Maybe: the excitement was just too much," says the officer. relatively easy to manufacture.
The digital gun builders carry on - even without JStark. But the ammunition remains a challenge for the community in Germany. Without permission to use explosives, she cannot get hold of the powder. The solution of the illegal arms manufacturer: mix it yourself. What sounds simple has always been the biggest problem so far. "The burning speed of the propellant powder must be precisely matched to the cartridge-weapon combination," says weapons expert Niels Heinrich. Among other things, the High Criminal Police Council teaches weapons and explosives law at police universities. Even mixed propellants usually do not work. If too much pressure is exerted, it can blow up the weapon. ”In the worst case scenario, the hobbyist would go blind and lose fingers.
For this, too, the illegal arms makers seem to have found a loophole in the meantime. They take advantage of the fact that ammunition for special powder-operated tools is freely available. If you carefully break open the cases and pour the powder into cases that have already been fired, new ammunition can be produced. It is not free of risk, but if you believe gun makers, you can achieve relatively reliable results in this way.
The security authorities seem powerless against the scene. Although Germany belongs to the state laws, there are always gaps. At the moment when a potential criminal offense is banned, offenders evade and take another, ”says Heinrich. Nevertheless, he is not pessimistic: “We with the strictest monkeys have extremely strict laws, and when you consider the effort the Halle assassin tried to get himself arms with, and what a bad result it is that is a sign that we are actually doing pretty well.
Jenzen-Jones argues against this: Most control methods are doomed to failure. Numerous components such as pipes that can withstand bohemian pressure would be used for many legal purposes. So how can that be forbidden? It is clear to him: “If people absolutely want a firearm and cannot legally manage it, they will build one illegally, regardless of whether it is made of metal or plastic.
The Federal Ministry of the Interior does not even have numbers on weapons from 3-D printers, it said on request. A tightening of the gun laws is also not planned, says a spokeswoman: The federal government sees no need to adapt gun law, as there are sufficient legal regulations.
The former companions of JStark don't care about gun laws anyway, and they are no longer limited to the development and construction of 3-D pistols and suitable ammunition: They tinker with rocket launchers and experiment with armed drones.
Maik Baumgartner, Alexander Epp. Roman Höfner, Roman Lehberger
Image credit - SPEIGEL Politics