Weapons, kidnappings and a coup: five minutes to understand the anti-vaccine terrorist threat in Germany

Across the Rhine, the challenge to health restrictions and the anti-Covid vaccine is taking worrying forms, authorities say. On Thursday, the German justice announced that it had frustrated attack plans promoted by a radicalized fringe of the “antivax” movementclose to the extreme right, which wanted to attack the democratic order.

What was the threat?

In Germany, in the issue of one of those menée after October 2021, five Allemands appartenant to the anti-restrictions sanitaires movement and faisant part of a message group entitled «Patriotes unis», ont ététété suspectés de planifier des attentats d’ extreme right. Of the five individuals, aged 41 to 55, four were arrested. Your network, organized on the Telegram platformit in particular foresaw the kidnappings of public figures such as Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, a supporter of restrictions against Covid-19.

The group gathered around 70 people throughout the country. They spoke among themselves “from a reversal of the democratic order, the establishment of a new government, to declarations that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin should also succeed here in Germany to allow the advent of a new system,” the Minister summed up. of the Rhineland-Palatinate Interior, Roger Lewentz.

In particular, these suspects had planned to attack power grids in order to cause “a lasting power outage throughout the territory”, which, in their opinion, would have created the conditions for a “civil war”.

The troops seemed well prepared. During searches in nine regions on Wednesday, investigators seized firearms and ammunition, gold bars and silver coins, currency worth more than 10,000 euros, as well as mobile phones whose analysis has yet to be carried out. They also found false Covid-19 vaccination certificates or various written documents about their plans to overthrow the state.

Are there precedents?

As unlikely as it sounds, this is not the first time such a threat has been detected. In December, the police conducted searches and seized various weapons, including crossbowsin Dresden, to a group of opponents who threatened to kill the Prime Minister of Saxony, Michael Kretschmer.

Some activists seem able to act, in a more or less organized way. In late March, in Zürich, Switzerland, a top immunization official from the country was briefly removed. One suspect, a 38-year-old German citizen, was arrested in the area last week by local police. Armed, the man fired at the police, who responded. The kidnapper died during the intervention, as did a woman, also shot. According to the Swiss press, this man would have been in contact with conspiratorial supporters of the flat earth theory, the “Flat Earthers”.

Last September, a 50-year-old man, shot and killed a 20-year-old cashier at a gas station in Idar-Oberstein, West Germany. The young cashier had refused to serve him because he was not wearing a mask. Before the authorities, the aggressor admitted that he openly opposes the anti-Covid-19 restriction measures.

What do the German authorities say?

They do not hesitate to qualify these projects as terrorism. The Federal Minister of the Interior, Nancy Faeser, thus compares the projects of this group with “coup fantasies”, which show that Germany is facing “a new dimension of the terrorist threat”.

Personally targeted by the group arrested on Thursday, the German Social Democratic Minister of Health, Karl Lauterbach, also denounced a drift of a certain “Querdenker” (unconventional thinkers), as these opponents of government policy to combat the pandemic call themselves in Germany. This “shows not only that the protests against the anti-Covid rules have become radicalized, (…) but that there are parallel attempts to destabilize the State”, he reacted to the press, deploring the actions “of a small but very dangerous minority “. “.

How is the German anti-vaccine movement?

In Germany, the anti-vaccine and/or conspiracy movement, sometimes grouped under the term “Querdenken” (free thought, or anti-conformism, in German) has been especially mobilized since the start of the pandemic. As in other countries, it communicates through social networks, including Telegram. She was noted across the Rhine for threats against elected officials or during demonstrations, raising fears that a radicalization was reaching out to extremist circles.

“The conspiracy ideology and the far-right mobilization against anti-Covid protection measures are also accompanied by an increase in direct violence,” the Center for Monitoring, Analysis and Strategy, a German think tank specializing in research on the far-right and The conspiracy, in a report published in 2021.

As restrictions linked to the pandemic are further lifted, these movements continue to mobilize on the Internet, the center testifies. “Although Querdenken and other movements take fewer people to the streets, they have a dense, organized and professionalized communication network online, which can be reactivated frequently,” he adds.

These threats are increasing in a context where, more generally, the threat of far-right violence is growing in Germany. In June 2019, a neo-Nazi activist shot the elected Walter Lübcke in the head, a member of Angela Merkel’s conservative party who defended the former chancellor’s policy of welcoming immigrants. A murder that triggered an intensification of police operations against extreme right-wing movements: the violence of these circles is also at the forefront of threats to public order in Germany, given the jihadist risk.

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