Germany faces ‘bigger danger’ from underground neo-Nazis


 Underground neo-Nazi group members who remain untraceable are a big threat for Germany, an expert says.

In fact, some experts believe that the threat to Germany from around 300 neo-Nazis, who are believed to have gone underground recently, is far bigger than from the newly uncovered far-right terrorist group, The Oldschool Society (OSS).

Robert Ludecke, an expert at the Amadeu Antonio Foundation, an anti-racist group, told Anadolu Agency Thursday that he doubted OSS members posed a serious threat because although they were typical neo-Nazis, the group openly communicated on social media.

“It is hard to say whether they are a serious threat or not. Normally terror groups do not act openly like this on Facebook. They have put their [real] names on Facebook, shared their pictures, almost wrote a diary online,” Ludecke said.

“I would say OSS is not the real problem...the bigger danger is those neo-Nazis [who are] submerged, who went underground and cannot be found,” he said.

In 2013, the German intelligence said that at least 266 right-wing extremists went underground. Ludecke believes the number was as high as 300. “Police and intelligence do not know where these people live, what are they doing and what are they planning,” he alleged.

On May 6, German police had arrested four OSS members on suspicion of planning terrorist attacks on asylum centers and mosques. Police said that the group had acquired explosives material for an alleged attack on an asylum center near the eastern city of Leipzig.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told the media then that the OSS had been the second far-right terrorist group uncovered in Germany after the National Socialist Underground (NSU) and went on to praise the police and intelligence for what he called “a successful operation”.

But Ludecke, who had been monitoring far-right groups for years, said that the basic nature of the OSS and NSU groups were largely different.

“NSU worked completely in the underground for a long time. The OSS is the exact opposite,” he pointed out. “OSS acted almost transparently, completely open,” he said.

Hajo Funke, a professor of political science and a far-right expert at Berlin's Free University, also cautioned against completely believing the information provided to the press by security and intelligence organizations.

Funke said: “The director of the domestic intelligence BfV, Dr. Hans-Georg Maassen, told lawmakers in December that they were not carrying out any terrorism investigation in relation to the right-wing extremist groups. But now, we learn that this right-wing extremist group was under surveillance since autumn last year. Apparently, Maassen lied at that time.”

He said that it was still not clear why the security organizations did not want to go public earlier that they had been investigating OSS and only did it last week.

Unresolved murders

The NSU killed at least eight Turkish immigrants, a Greek worker and a German policewoman between 2000 and 2007, all apparently without arousing the suspicions of the German police or its intelligence services.

The German public first learned about the existence of NSU in November 2011, when two members of the group reportedly died in a murder-suicide following an unsuccessful bank robbery. A third NSU member, Beate Zchaepe, is currently under arrest.

Until 2011, Germany’s police and intelligence service excluded any racial motive for the murders and instead treated immigrant families as suspects in the case and harassed them for alleged connections with mafia groups and drug traffickers.

Mehmet Daimaguler, a lawyer representing families of NSU victims at the ongoing trial, said that the recent operation had been a late step in the right direction.

“As we have been arguing for years, the police and intelligence should take the far-right threat more seriously,” Daimaguler told Anadolu Agency.

Daimaguler said that according to initial information available, OSS was unlikely to be a copycat of the NSU, as its members openly communicated and organized on the internet.

However, he also warned against playing down the potential threat of the OSS group. “When one tries to analyze the actions of OSS members, they do not seem to be intelligent people. But that does not make them less dangerous,” he said.

He also underlined that in recent years neo-Nazi groups had started to organize around small cells for the purpose of not arousing suspicion among authorities.

Investigation continues

The four far-right extremists who allegedly formed the OSS group last November were named as Andreas H., 56, Markus W., 39, Denise Vanessa G., 22, and Olaf O., 47.

They were arrested on May 6 after around 250 police officers raided houses in five states across the country.

Police also questioned six others on suspicion that they provided support to the group and the investigation in the case continues.

German police and intelligence have been under strong criticism in recent years for their alleged failure to effectively combat far-right extremism.

Some recent revelations unveiled ties between the far-right extremists and the informants of the domestic intelligence agency.

German authorities deny there had been any relationship between its agents and the unresolved NSU murders.

*AA correspondents Erbil Basay and Neslinan Dogan contributed to this story



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