Germany stages country-wide raids against 'neo-Nazi networks'
In a fight against far-right extremists, investigators discovered extremist organizations and neo-Nazi militant cells across Germany.
On Wednesday, investigators cracked down on accused neo-Nazi militant cells across Germany, arresting four men as the country wages a ruthless clampdown on far-right extremists.
The federal prosecutor's office claimed more than 1,000 officers raided the residences of 50 suspects in 11 states, in what Der Spiegel magazine termed "the heaviest blow against the violent neo-Nazi scene in recent history."
"The four men arrested are accused of membership of a right-wing extremist criminal organization," it said in a statement, as well as charges including grievous bodily harm.
'Lures young men'
The suspects were thought to be members of the far-right martial arts club Knockout 51, the banned Combat 18 named after the alphabetical sequence of Adolf Hitler's initials, the US-based Atomwaffen (Atomic Weapons) Division, or the online propaganda outfit Sonderkommando 1418.
Three of the men presently held, known only as Leon R., Maximilian A., and Eric K., were apprehended in the eastern town of Eisenach. Bastian A., the fourth, was apprehended in Rotenburg a der Fulda, central Germany.
The three men arrested in Eisenach are thought to be key figures in Knockout 51, a group that "lures young, nationalist-minded males, indoctrinates them with right-wing extremist ideology, and prepares them for street fighting," according to prosecutors.
It claimed Leon R. led training sessions in rooms used by the neo-Nazi NPD party in Eisenach.
Knockout 51 is thought to have contacts with other far-right organizations across Germany and "has been focused on committing serious crimes at the latest since March 2020."
These include attacks on leftist activists, police, and "those people who, under the group's right-wing extreme and racist worldview, can be opposed."
It claimed Knockout 51 attempted to build a "Nazi district" under its control in Eisenach and began conducting "patrols" last year in an attempt to provoke victims into attacking them.
Prosecutors said the suspects injured several people, some of them seriously, in such confrontations.
Between August 2020 and March 2021, the organization is suspected of seeking out protests against government restrictions against the coronavirus to engage in fights with police and counterdemonstrators.
Prosecutors said 10 of the suspects targeted on Wednesday were accused of ties with the "terrorist organization" Atomwaffen Division Deutschland.
According to the report, the organization used poster campaigns and internet propaganda to recruit young German males at colleges in Berlin and Frankfurt.
Meanwhile, Sonderkommando 1418 primarily functioned as an internet discussion group to recruit supporters for the formation of a "neo-fascist society."
With the arrest of a far-right suspect in the western city of Saarlouis this week, federal prosecutors hailed a breakthrough in the investigation into a three-decade-old deadly arson attack against an asylum-seeker shelter.