(LONDON) — Thousands of police officers have carried out a series of raids across much of Germany on Wednesday morning against suspected far-right extremists who allegedly sought to overthrow the state by force, according to the Attorney General at the Federal Court of Justice in Germany.
Federal prosecutors said some 3,000 officers conducted searches at 130 sites in 11 of Germany’s 16 states against adherents of the so-called Reich Citizens movement.
Prosecutors said 25 German citizens were detained on suspicion of “membership in a terrorist organization” and that the group, which was not identified in their statement announcing the raids, is alleged to have believed in a “conglomerate of conspiracy theories consisting of narratives from the so-called Reich Citizens as well as Q-Anon ideology,” according to a statement by prosecutors.
Many had military training and some of those arrested include former soldiers.
The arrests were made at various locations in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Hesse, Lower Saxony, Saxony and Thuringia. At least two arrests were made outside of Germany’s borders — one in the Kitzbühel region of Austria and the other in Perugia in Italy.
Searches were also conducted in a number of other federal states including Brandenburg, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland.
“The accused belong to a terrorist organization founded by the end of November 2021 at the latest, which has set itself the goal of overcoming the existing state order in Germany and replacing it with its own form of government, which has already been developed in outline,” federal prosecutors said in a statement following the raids. “The members of the association are aware that this project can only be realized through the use of military means and violence against state representatives. This also includes committing homicides. The accused are united by a deep rejection of the state institutions and the free democratic basic order of the Federal Republic of Germany.”
The rise of violent hard-right groups in Germany, including white supremacist and neo-Nazi factions, was detected years before law enforcement in the U.S. was willing to acknowledge the problem existed in America. In the final years of the Merkel government — and prior to the pandemic — some German intelligence officials were actively pushing Berlin to be more outspoken and aggressive in calling out the issue for fear that silence was allowing it to fester as the mainstream German population continued to believe it was a problem buried in the past.
With the rise of Q-Anon, the violent far-right and the re-energized militia movement in the U.S., other fringe groups in Europe and America started feeding off each other’s energy and online growth. The movements now, in many ways, mirror each other and cross-pollinate.
Authorities are expected to hold a press conference later Wednesday detailing the massive operation.
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