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Strike against the Reich Citizens Group: What the heads of the BKA, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution and the Federal Public Prosecutor say

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From the point of view of the President of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Thomas Haldenwang, the radicalization of members of the Bundeswehr and security authorities is “more than isolated cases”.

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“But in any case, it is still the case that the overwhelming majority of employees in security agencies really have both feet firmly on the ground of the Basic Law,” said Haldenwang in ARD’s “Tagesthemen” in view of the nationwide terror raid on Wednesday. The shattered association had connections to the German armed forces.

The president of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution spoke out in favor of introducing obligatory security checks for hiring. In addition, in his view, training courses on how to deal with right-wing extremism in one’s own ranks should be increased and the reporting requirements improved.

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On Wednesday, the police broke up a terrorist group associated with the “Reich Citizens” who are said to have planned a political coup in Germany. 22 suspected members of the group and three suspected supporters were arrested.

According to the Defense Ministry, a member of the Special Forces Command (KSK) was among those arrested. A total of three Bundeswehr soldiers are suspected.

Security authorities had the situation under control at all times.

President of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution Thomas Haldenwang

BKA President Holger Münch named the number of 54 suspects on Wednesday evening in the ZDF “heute journal” and spoke of more than 150 searches. Weapons were also found in around 50 objects. Münch expected further suspects and searches in the next few days. Around 3,000 officers were involved in the raids on Wednesday.

According to Haldenwang, the security authorities had had their sights set on the “Reichsbürger” group since the spring and had a fairly clear overview of their development and plans. The plans then became more and more concrete and weapons were procured, said Haldenwang in a ZDF “special”.

The exact time of the planned coup is not yet clear

He emphasized: “The German security authorities as a whole had the situation under control at all times. But if it had been up to this group, then the danger was quite real.”

BKA chief Münch said they didn’t want to wait until the last moment, but wanted to collect enough evidence that it was a terrorist organization. There is still no clarity about the time of the obviously planned coup.

However, the BKA president referred to a “council” that makes decisions and a military arm that also procures weapons. “They don’t wait until the last moment. But when that is clear then it also means: strike.” Attorney General Peter Frank also defended the timing of the raids. There were discussions within the association as to whether certain external events could not have been a reason to strike, said Frank in an ARD “Focal Point”. “We assume that the people in the association were determined and also were sure to do something,” he emphasized. It was right to take action now in December and put an end to the association.

We have to examine where democracy is stable and defensive and where it isn’t.

Conflict researcher Andreas Zick

Meanwhile, the conflict researcher Andreas Zick called for more prevention programs against extremism from the “Reichsbürger” and “lateral thinkers” scene. “A national strategy plan is needed that keeps an eye on the conspiracy-oriented groups, ‘Reichsbürger’ and other scenes,” Zick told the Evangelical Press Service (epd) in Bielefeld.

Local civil society must also be strengthened. In addition, the conflict researcher called for special exit programs.

The new extremist scenes and their alliances must be analyzed systematically, said the head of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence at Bielefeld University. “We have to examine where democracy is stable and defensive and where it isn’t.”

Zick said that the “Reichsbürger” movement was a radical splinter group, but that there were alliances right down to the middle of society. No matter how small, such groups “have a delayed and unconscious influence”. In addition, they would dock onto existing popular opinions.

The terrorism researcher Peter R. Neumann told the “RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland” that the “Reich citizens” were “capable and willing” to carry out serious terrorist attacks against the state. The determination to carry out possible acts of terrorism has grown more strongly in this movement than in any other group as a result of the corona pandemic.

“They formulate resistance narratives most clearly and claim to have the right and legitimacy to mount armed resistance against the state,” Neumann said. “And unfortunately, many of them also own guns or have been trained to use them.”

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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