February 14, 2020 / 2:20 PM / 5 days ago

Germany busts 'terrorist organization' that planned attacks on Muslims, refugees

BERLIN (Reuters) - German police detained 12 men on Friday suspected of setting up a far-right organization with the goal of carrying out attacks against politicians, asylum seekers and Muslims, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office (GBA) said.

Prosecutors said four of the suspects had set up a “terrorist organization” in September 2019 and regularly met and contacted each other by phone and in online chart forums and chat groups. They had no immediate plan to carry out an attack.

The other eight men were detained on suspicion of supporting the organization with money and weapons, the GBA said.

The suspects wanted their attacks to create havoc and an atmosphere of fear that resembles a civil war, it added.

“The goal of the organization was to shake and eventually destroy the democratic system and social cohesion of the federal republic,” the GBA said. “For the purpose of creating an conditions that resemble a civil war, attacks that were not yet concrete against politicians, asylum seekers and members of the Muslim faith were planned.”

The German government last year launched a crackdown on right-wing political violence in response to a rise in hate crimes.

New measures approved after the killing of a pro-immigration politician and a deadly attack on a synagogue and kebab shop in Halle by an anti-Semitic gunman include tougher rules on gun ownership and stricter monitoring of hate speech online.

The government has said around 90% of the 1,800 incidents recorded against Jews last year were committed by individuals espousing far-right views.

Germany’s domestic intelligence agency estimates there are around 24,100 “right wing extremists” in Germany, about half of whom are potentially violent.

Reporting by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Toby Chopra

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