Possible Target List Neo-Nazis May Have Planned to Target Politicians
New evidence suggests Germany's Zwickau neo-Nazi terror cell may have been planning attacks on politicians, including two members of parliament. Two members of the Green Party and the conservatives who appeared on the list expressed their dismay in Berlin on Wednesday.
Was a trio of suspected neo-Nazi terrorists in eastern Germany also planning to target politicians in addition to a murderous crime wave that left at least 10 people, mostly immigrants, dead in Germany?
Officials investigating the Zwickau neo-Nazi terror cell have uncovered what could be a list of targets created by the suspected terrorists. According to information obtained by SPIEGEL ONLINE, the list includes the names and addresses of 88 people, including at least two politicians who are members of the German federal parliament, the Bundestag, and representatives of Turkish and Muslim organizations.
So far, investigators have been unable to determine why the three suspects in the case might have put together the list. Nor are they certain whether it was intended as a list of possible targets or just as a listing of political opponents. The number of entries alone is enough to raise eyebrows among those with knowledge of the far right, given that 88 is used by neo-Nazis as code for an abbreviation of the phrase "Heil Hitler" (H being the eighth letter of the alphabet).
Berlin's Tagesspiegel newspaper first reported on the findings in its Wednesday edition, noting that the list originated from 2005.
Among those on the list are Jerzy Montag, a member of parliament with the Green Party, and Hans-Peter Uhl, a parliamentarian with Bavaria's Christian Social Union, the sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union. Montag told SPIEGEL ONLINE he had contacted the German Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA), which had confirmed the discovery. The BKA has since shared the discovery with its counterparts at the state level in order to obtain a more precise assessment of the threat.
'A Dreadful Feeling'
Montag has since revealed his deep concerns. "This is a dreadful feeling for me," the Green politician said. "The fact that the known members of the terror cell have been deactivated does not mean that this is over." Montag added: "If someone can think this up, then there could also be others." The member of parliament said he is firmly convinced "that there are more right-wing extremists in Germany who have the ability to carry out similar acts."
CSU politician Uhl told SPIEGEL ONLINE: "When I heard that my name was on the list, I was shocked." He tried, he said, to "make sense of how one ends up on such a list."
Both Montag and Uhl are best known as legal and domestic policymakers in Germany; both represent Munich constituencies in the Bundestag. The Green politician and lawyer Montag has been actively engaged for years in the fight against right-wing extremism.
Michael Hartmann, the domestic policy spokesman for the center-left Social Democratic Party, said he shares the concerns of his colleague Montag. "For me, the address lists should not be taken any more or less seriously than what we uncovered so far about the victims," he told SPIEGEL ONLINE. He added, however, that "to be able to give a more accurate assessment, we need to wait for further investigations."
Whether the neo-Nazi trio had actually been planning attacks on politicians can only be confirmed by Beate Zschäpe, a suspect in the case who is currently in police custody. After the suicide of her two supposed accomplices, she has not yet answered any police questions on the alleged crimes. Investigators consider Zschäpe to be the key to the case, because she is probably the only one who can shed light on the series of murders and bank robberies, and above all on the motives and future plans of the suspected far-right terrorists. Several newspapers have reported that the suspect is planning to give a statement on Wednesday. The investigators did not want to comment on the matter.
The impact of the discovered list is difficult for the authorities to assess. Lists of so-called political enemies of neo-Nazi groups have been found repeatedly in raids and arrests. So far, however, these were considered more like propaganda tools. For the Zwickau cell, though, investigators have not ruled anything out. In 2006, the three suspects suddenly stopped their alleged series of murders of foreigners. Now there are fears that they may have then started working on a new plan -- whose targets have been uncovered on the list.