Prague shooting: What is Telegram and what role did it play in the Czech tragedy?

Prague shooting: What is Telegram and what role did it play in the Czech tragedy?
At least 14 dead after university shooting in central Prague
FMM - F24 Video Clips / VideoElephant

The gunman behind the Czech Republic’s worst-ever mass shooting made a series of chilling diary entries on the messaging app Telegram in the run-up to the atrocity.

David Kozak, 24, opened fire at Charles University in Prague on 21 December, killing 14 people and injuring at least 20.

Before he carried out the attack, he boasted of his plans to carry out a school shooting and referenced past massacres on his Telegram channel, according to Czech media.

He said the channel would be a “diary” of his life, writing: “I always wanted to kill. I thought I would become a maniac in the future.”

Kozak praised someone called “Ilznaz”, in a post which is thought to be referring to Ilznaz Galyaviev, 19, who killed nine people in a school shooting in Russia in 2021.

He also wrote about Russian school shooter Alina Afanaskina, a 14-year-old schoolgirl who shot dead another student and wounded five others earlier this month.

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What is Telegram?

Telegram is an instant messaging app, a bit like Whatsapp.

It is widely used because it offers some enhanced privacy and encryption features and supports large group chat features.

Some people also like it because it is not tied to other social media platforms. Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are owned by Meta, for example.

However, it has also gained a reputation as being a safe haven for conspiracy theorists and extremists.

Several investigations into the 6 January storm on the US Capitol in 2021 pointed to Telegram as the main venue for people planning the attack on the far-right.

Telegram has previously said it has ramped up efforts to disable accounts run by hate groups and extremists.

‘An introverted type’

Kozak is thought to have been a quiet introvert with no criminal record, according to local media reports.

He had a bachelor’s degree in history and European studies, and continued with a master’s degree, focusing on the history of Poland.

One resident told local media: “He was an introverted type, strange probably like any other nerd.

“The family seemed normal. We went to their cottage years ago. His dad used to be mine’s boss and they were friends outside of work, including his wife.”

Kozak kept his Telegram channel private until just before his attack, when he made it open to read. It was later taken down.

indy100 has reached out to Telegram for comment.

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