They foresaw “violent attacks” in Germany and kidnappings of “public figures”. Four members of a far-right network in the anti-vaccine movement and opponents to anti-Covid regulations were arrested, the German justice announced on Thursday. Social Democratic Health Minister Karl Lauterbach was among their targets. This is what we know.
What was this network?
This network called “Patriots United” aimed to destroy “the German democratic system”, the Koblenz public prosecutor’s office and the Rhineland-Palatinate police said in a joint press release. They wanted to sow chaos to lead to conditions close to civil war. On Wednesday several of its members were arrested.
Specifically, they seized firearms and ammunition, gold bars and silver coins, currency worth more than 10,000 euros, as well as mobile phones, fake vaccination certificates against Covid-19, or even various written documents about his plans to overthrow the state. .
Those arrested are all German citizens. Another is singled out by authorities, but has not been arrested. They are 41, 42, 50, 54 and 55 years old. Specialized services have been investigating this group, its founders and their sympathizers in various regions of the country since October 2021.
What were your goals?
According to the elements of the investigation, this group planned to kidnap the Social Democratic Minister of Health, Karl Lauterbach. This “shows not only that the protests against the anti-Covid rules have become radicalized, (…) but that in the meantime they are attempts to destabilize the state,” Karl Lauterbach reacted during a press conference, saying it was “annoying” and denouncing “but very dangerous” minority extremists.
Those arrested were also planning bomb attacks against energy providers with the aim of causing a nationwide blackout to incite civil war.
Is it unprecedented?
Police operations aimed at the radical fringe of the movement against sanitary restrictions they have multiplied in the country that has placed extreme right-wing violence at the forefront of threats to public order, ahead of the jihadist risk. This movement has been particularly mobilized in Germany since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and is active in Telegram groups threatening elected officials or during demonstrations.
You assassination in June 2019 by neo-Nazi militant Walter Lübcke, elected by the conservative party that defended former Chancellor Angela Merkel’s immigrant reception policy, had also caused an electric shock in the country. At the beginning of April, the German authorities, in particular carried out a major crackdown on terrorist circles right-wing extremist, as part of a broader investigation, involving police and military intelligence services since 2019.