Germany investigates cross-border extremist network
BERLIN — Germany's top security official pledged Monday to get to the bottom of an alleged plot intended to arm far-right extremists in the country with weapons, ammunition and explosives procured in neighboring Austria.
Austrian authorities on the weekend said that recent raids had led to the seizure of 70 automatic and semi-automatic firearms, explosives and more than 100,000 rounds of ammunition.
Five people have been arrested in Austria, including the prime suspect, identified as a 53-year-old Austrian with known links to organized crime and right-wing extremism, Vienna investigators said.
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said Berlin had been cooperating with Vienna since October on the case.
He called the discovery of "such a great quantity" of weapons, munitions and explosives "alarming" and pledged a full investigation into the case.
"This is particularly true for the right-extremist background of the suspect in Austria," he said in a written statement.
Two alleged accomplices were also arrested in the German states of Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's Interior Ministry said.
Austrian authorities have said that a significant quantity of drugs was found in the raids and that investigators believe that narcotics being smuggled from Germany were being used to finance the procurement of the weapons.
Last weekend, Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said the investigation had revealed "a network that shows links between the area of right-wing extremism and organized crime."
He said that some of those belonged to the "neo-Nazi scene that has sadly also been known in Austria for a while."
Austria's APA news agency reported that the weapons included submachine guns, assault rifles and handguns.
"The suspicion that the weapons and ammunition were intended for Germany requires a complete and comprehensive investigation," Germany's Interior Ministry said.
The Interior Ministry said no further details of the find or the arrests could be released so as not to jeopardize the ongoing investigation.