Far-right extremists who wanted civil war in Germany charged with terrorism

Their goal was ‘destabilising and ultimately overthrowing’ country's democratic order

One of twelve men suspected of involvement in a far-right group is escorted by police as he arrives for his hearing at Germany's general prosecutor in Karlsruhe , Germany, February 15, 2020.  REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

A gang of 12 German far-right extremists who wanted to spark a civil war have been charged with terrorism offences, security services said.

Eleven of the men, arrested in nationwide raids in February, are charged with being members of a terrorist organisation and one is charged with supporting the terrorist group.

Germany's security services have identified far-right groups as the country's major internal threat and supporters have been uncovered in the police and military.

Four of the men wanted to create “a civil war-like situation” with as yet undefined attacks on politicians, asylum seekers and Muslims, federal prosecutors said in February.

They are accused of founding a "right-wing terrorist organisation" with the goal of "destabilising and ultimately overthrowing" Germany's democratic order.

The raids were carried out in 13 locations in six German states.

Eight suspects agreed to "financially support the group, provide it with weapons or take part in future attacks", prosecutors said.

To plan their attacks, the group allegedly held regular meetings that were co-ordinated and organised by two of the main suspects, identified as Werner S and Tony E.

The suspects, all of whom are German citizens, communicated on messenger apps.

German authorities have increased scrutiny of the underground extreme-right scene since the murder of conservative local politician Walter Luebcke in June 2019, and an attack on a synagogue in the eastern city of Halle in October 2019.

Media reports said police found several weapons in the February raids, including one home-made gun similar to the one used in the Halle attack.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer announced late in 2019 that 600 new posts across the federal police and domestic security services to track far-right extremist threats.