JStark1809: The German Soldier Behind the 3D Printed Gun Revolution

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In the digital shadows of the Internet, a man known only by his online pseudonym JStark1809 carved out a notorious legacy as a 3D printed gun designer. Often photographed wearing a mask and dark glasses, this longtime enigmatic figure and creator of the FGC-9 (F**k Gun Control-9) design has now been identified as Jacob Duygu. A former member of the German military, Duygu was not just a faceless hero for universal gun ownership rights but a man with a complex past.

In October 2021, according to a report by Der Spiegel, the British financial sector supplied information to the German Federal Criminal Police Office that led to the identification JStark1809 as a 28-year-old from Völklingen, referred to as “Jacob D.” Earlier that June, his residence was searched by the police, who discovered no firearms and did not detain him. Subsequently, he was found deceased in his vehicle parked outside his parents’ house in Hannover two days following the police search. Medical examiners concluded that he died of a heart attack and confirmed that there was no indication of any criminal involvement in his death.

While the German news site provided some insight into JStark1809, his true identity remained a mystery to the broader public until the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) at King’s College London published a 52-page study in October 2023. Titled “Behind the Mask: Uncovering the Extremist Messages of a 3D Printed Gun Designer,” the study seemingly exposed JStark1809 as Jacob Duygu. Authored by Senior Research Fellow and terrorist threat expert Rajan Basra, the report not only claimed to reveal his real name but also detailed his German and Kurdish heritage, a liaison with the military, and shed light on the hidden dangers of Duygu’s work.

If Basra’s work is accurate, we can say that the story of Duygu is complex and marked by innovation, extremism, tragedy, and the struggle for identity in a world where virtual actions have very real consequences. The following outlines the portrait of the person that Basra claims JStark1809 to have been.

Jakob Duygu, also known as JStark1809. Image courtesy of ICSR.

A Journey Revealed

Born to Kurdish refugees, Duygu carried within him the narrative of survival and the quest for belonging. A self-proclaimed “gun nut,” he started out writing 700 “anonymous” comments on 4chan’s/pol/ board before creating a 3D printed firearm that could be manufactured cheaply and easily. He designed his FGC-9 to evade government control, and its CAD files traveled the globe, landing in the hands of many, from hobbyists to anti-military rebels and criminals.

According to the report, Duygu created the FGC-9 as a direct challenge to German gun laws and his struggle to balance his personal liberties with what he considered “limited licenses provided by the state.” This frustration grew while he was in the German army. During his time as a junior, non-commissioned officer in the Bundeswehr, he learned to use a G36 assault rifle, a powerful weapon he wasn’t allowed to own privately.

Gun ownership is tightly regulated in Germany, unlike in the United States, where the Second Amendment protects the right to bear arms. Germans must pass thorough background checks and have the appropriate licensing to own firearms. Even more so, the emergence of 3D printed firearms, such as the FGC-9, presents what many legislators dubbed “a challenge to existing regulations.” Manufacturers can produce these homemade firearms to bypass traditional legal channels.

German law currently prohibits the unauthorized manufacturing of firearms, which extends to 3D printed guns. However, lawmakers recognize the limitations of this law, especially its effectiveness in preventing criminals from producing and using 3D printed weapons. Despite Germany’s stringent gun laws, the issue of 3D printed firearms requires careful consideration, with policymakers seeking a balanced approach that addresses the potential dangers without squashing innovation and personal freedoms.

JStark1809s FGC-9

3D Gunsmithing

The gun he designed has been seen on five continents, including countries like Australia, Brazil, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, the UK, and the United States. For example, in Myanmar, civilian rebels have been fighting the armed forces, known as the Tatmadaw, with 3D printed weapons. In an attempt to regain control of the country, these anti-junta guerillas 3D printed Duygu’s FGC-9 gun.

The FGC-9 features upper and lower receivers, pistol grip, and stock that are all 3D printable. The barrel is designed to be made via electrochemical machining. The device costs approximately $300 to $500, including an estimated $200 for the printer and $100 for the machining equipment. Although Duygu indicated that it took one-and-a-half to two weeks to build the original model, others have improved the design to make it more customizable and printable, including a 3D printable trigger system for fire control.

He also created a network called Deterrence Dispensed for 3D printed gun designers and enthusiasts to develop new designs, disseminate the digital files online, and encourage their adoption. That network remains active even after JStark’s mysterious death, which took place. However, in 2021, the name changed to The Gatalog to prevent further confusion with the Cody Wilson-founded company Defense Distributed—a “wiki weapons” online database.

Duygu’s challenges and goals deeply connect with these legal issues. The ICSR’s document highlights that his “dream of moving to the United States” was driven by the liberties of the Second Amendment, which contrasted with his experiences in Germany. With no immigration or visa options available, his choices were limited. This situation drove him to consider making his weapons.

The FGC‑9 Mk II. Image courtesy of JStark1809/ICSR.

Constructing a Profile

Eventually, it was this digital realm that allowed Duygu’s online persona, JStark1809, to become synonymous with the movement. According to Basra’s report, Duygu’s designs were not just blueprints for weapons; they were declarations of a battle against a form of tyranny and authoritarianism.

“JStark’s contributions helped transform 3D printed firearms from a niche interest to a phenomenon now garnering widespread use and attention,” highlights the study.

Yet, behind this enigmatic figure was a man wrestling with deep inner turmoil. Jacob’s online admissions revealed the story of an involuntarily celibate (incel). He traveled to the Philippines to escape, only to return with even more despair. His comments switched between advocating for violence and feeling like he was going to be left out by everyone, no matter what.

Basra also links Duygu to extreme beliefs that include misogyny, racism, anti-semitism and more. In particular, he expressed hatred toward Turks and Kurds specifically, using vitriolic language to describe them, despite being the child of Muslim Kurdish refugees. His anti-female attitude sometimes manifested in imagery that glorified violence against women. Altogether, these attitudes culminated in calls for violence against these groups. Basra writes:

Under the “’Stark1809′ moniker, he shared a universal message of using guns to defend the oppressed from authoritarian governments. Anonymously, he posted xenophobic, racist, antisemitic, and misogynistic comments and endorsed anti-State violence. He also described his life as an incel (his struggles in forming romantic and sexual relationships) and spoke of his desire to travel to Southeast Asia or commit suicide. Just days before his arrest and death, he was so angry with life as an incel that he threatened violence. Writing anonymously, he said: ‘I will literally kill , (sic) or kill myself soon if i can’t sleep in a bed with a girl again …’.

Basra’s Methodology

Basra’s open-source investigation into JStark’s digital history began with his 2019 podcast appearance where he criticized a 3D-printed gun design by Cody Wilson, leading to an exchange on Twitter. Although JStark’s original tweet couldn’t be verified due to account suspension, his Twitter profile was identified. Further probes revealed two more of his profiles, @Krieger_Jacob on Twitter and a YouTube account, both featuring content about the Syrian Civil War, aligning thematically with JStark’s known interests.

JStark’s participation on 4chan’s /pol/ board under the username @thereal_JacobK provided more insights. His posts, revealing personal details like living in Hannover and identifying as autistic and an incel, were marked by consistent idiolect characteristics – particularly, his unique use of capitalization and spacing in punctuation, distinct from typical German writing styles.

To locate JStark’s anonymous posts, keyword searches were conducted using specific terms and themes he often mentioned, leading to the identification of additional posts. Consistency across platforms in his linguistic patterns was a key factor in these searches. Another method involved searching for the unique hashes of images he uploaded, focusing on those with consistent filenames, suggesting they were uploaded by the same user.

Combining these methods, JStark was identified as the author of 719 comments across 89 threads on 4chan’s /pol/ board from March 2017 to June 2021. The comments matched his life, attitudes, and behavior, with the discovery of a photo on /pol/ further validating the search methods. Facial recognition linked this photo to a Soundcloud user, Jakob Duygu, consistent with JStark’s biographical details.

Basra’s methods are extensive and thoroughly detailed, but may have some potential issues. For instance, keyword searches run the risk of confirmation bias, where the searcher may find what they are specifically looking for while missing out on broader, less obvious connections. Additionally, searching for image hashes relies heavily on the assumption that the same user consistently uploaded the same images, which might not account for popular images or memes being reused by different users, potentially leading to false positives. Basra also required that only two of four criteria be met to identify a comment as authored by JStark, which may not have always ensured accuracy and could allow for the misattribution of comments, especially in the confusing world of 4chan.

Members of the 3D printed gun community have spoken out against Basra’s research, with some X users arguing that he doesn’t accurately portray JStark, others questioning the agenda of someone who would perform such research, and still others taking issue with the idea that an individual like Duygu might reflect the broader DIY gunsmithing community. These claims may or may not be true, but, based on a review of the comments, the X users don’t seem to provide much critical analysis of the report’s methodology itself.

Legacy of 3D Printed Guns

In the end, Jacob’s life was full of contradictions. His anonymous comments revealed a propensity for violence and extremism, but those who knew him painted a picture of a “man of integrity and moral compass.”

Basra describes, “This picture of JStark may contradict the impression he left on his friends and family. It is possible that he only disclosed certain ideas and feelings when posting anonymously online. Shortly before this report’s publication, a friend of JStark – who knew him online and offline – contacted the author. He wrote about Jacob’s character: ‘JStark was a man of high integrity and had an exceptionally strong moral compass…I’m someone who knew him somewhat intimately and spent countless hours talking to him, and I can tell you that JStark did not have one cell in him that wanted to hurt other people.’”

It was in this complex web of identity and ideology that Jacob’s life came to an abrupt and mysterious end. He was found dead in a car outside his parents’ home; the cause of his death remains unconfirmed. Although some speculated suicide, authorities have ruled this out.

Jacob Duygu’s story ends as strangely as it began. His life changed from being a soldier to becoming famous for making 3D printed guns, but this leaves behind more questions than answers. Perhaps it’s his history in the military that stirs thoughts related to historical secret operations. Of course, any direct ties to clandestine activities are entirely unverified. However, Duygu’s life and sudden death highlight the complex mix of personal freedom, advanced technology, and the pieces of his story we’re still missing and may never know.

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