Germany charges 4 with forming far-right terror group

AP News
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Posted: Jan 13, 2016 10:35 AM

BERLIN (AP) — German prosecutors have charged three men and one woman with forming a far-right terror group and planning a bombing on a refugee shelter, officials said Wednesday.

The four are alleged to have created a group two years ago that went by the name Oldschool Society, using social media to recruit new members and promote far-right ideas, federal prosecutors said.

Internally, the group became increasingly radical and, in mid-November 2014, members discussed how to manufacture explosives and the possibility of attacking Islamic extremists and asylum-seekers in Germany.

The four — identified only as Andreas H., 57; Markus W. ,40; Denise Vanessa G. 23; and Olaf O., 47, in line with German privacy rules — are accused of forming and being members of a "terrorist organization" and planning an explosion, prosecutors said. Andreas H. and Markus W. were described as the group's president and vice president.

"There was a concrete plan to carry out an explosives attack on an inhabited refugee shelter near Borna in connection with their second meeting from May 8-10, 2015," prosecutors said. The town is southeast of Leipzig in the eastern state of Saxony, which has been a hotbed of anti-foreigner sentiment over the past year.

Markus W. and Denise Vanessa G. allegedly traveled to the Czech Republic in May 2015 to purchase fireworks and the group discussed how to make them more dangerous by wrapping nails around them.

They were arrested May 6 as part of nationwide raids, before the attack could take place. All four are in prison pending trial.

Separately, Hannover prosecutors said Wednesday they charged two men, aged 25 and 31, and a 24-year-old woman with attempted murder and attempted arson on allegations they threw a gasoline bomb through a window at an asylum-seekers' home in northwestern Germany.

The three are alleged in August to have thrown the improvised device through a ground-floor window in a school building in Salzhemmendorf that had been converted to house about 30 asylum seekers, setting fire to a mattress and a rug in an unoccupied room. The trio fled in a car from the scene, prosecutors said.

The early-morning blaze was quickly extinguished and authorities said no harm came to a woman who had been sleeping in a neighboring room with her three young children.

Prosecutors said the three have admitted to the attack, but not to their motivation.

German authorities have recorded a rise in attacks against refugees over the past year amid an unprecedented influx of asylum seekers to the country. While most of the attacks are believed to have been carried out by people with no previous affiliation to far-right groups, authorities are sensitive to the possibility that neo-Nazi groups might stage violent attacks ever since the existence of the self-styled National Socialist Underground came to light four years ago.

The NSU allegedly killed eight Turks, a Greek and a policewoman between 2000 and 2007, and is believed to be behind two bombings and 15 bank robberies.

The group's sole survivor, Beate Zschaepe, and four alleged supporters are currently on trial in Munich.

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David Rising contributed to this report.