German police crack down on far-right extremists 'trying to overthrow the state'

Thousands of officers searched 130 locations across the country in operations against the plotting of the Reich Citizens

Twenty-five people including a 71-year-old German nobleman, a retired military commander and former member of parliament for the right-wing Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) have been detained in Germany on suspicion of a terrorist plot to overthrow the state and return. negotiating a post-second world war settlement for the two countries.

Thousands of police carried out a series of raids across Germany early on Wednesday into a far-right network.

Federal prosecutors said 3,000 officers carried out searches at 130 locations in 11 of Germany's 16 states against the group, whose members are said to belong to a "conglomerate of conspiracy theories" including the QAnon cult and the so-called Reich Citizens movement.

Prosecutors said 22 German nationals were detained on suspicion of "membership in a terrorist organization". Three other detainees, including a Russian woman, are suspected of supporting the organization, they said.

Der Spiegel reported that the locations searched included the barracks of the German KSK special forces unit, in the southwestern city of Calw. The unit has in the past been scrutinized for alleged far-right involvement by some soldiers. Federal prosecutors refused to confirm or deny that the barracks had been searched.

Along with detentions in Germany, prosecutors said one person was being held in the Austrian city of Kitzbühel and another in Perugia in Italy.

German media have identified the group's leader as Heinrich XIII, 71, descended from the noble Reuß family that ruled parts of eastern Germany in the 12th century, and a former senior field officer in the German army's paratrooper battalion named only Rüdiger von P.

Last year, the pair founded a "terrorist organization with the aim of overturning the existing state order in Germany and replacing it with their own form of state, which was already in the process of being established", with Rüdiger von P in charge of planning. military coup and Heinrich XIII charted Germany's future political order.

The group even started nominating ministers for a post-coup transitional government, reports Die Zeit newspaper, where one of the suspects, former AfD lawmaker Birgit Malsack-Winkemann, 58, will become federal minister for justice.

The group believes modern Germany is run by a "deep state" conspiracy that will be uncovered by an alliance of German intelligence services and foreign militaries including Russia and the US.

“Everything will be turned upside down: the current prosecutors and judges, as well as the heads of the health department and their superiors will find themselves on the docks in Nuremberg 2.0”, said one of the suspects in a message posted on Telegram minutes. before the start of Wednesday's raids, Die Zeit reported.

While the suspects believed their goals could only be achieved by military means and by force, prosecutors said, it was unclear whether the group had managed to amass serious weaponry.

Some of the defendants are former members of the military and are alleged to have taken weapons illegally from the army's stockpile during their years of service, while others held gun licenses.

After their takeover, the group envisioned renegotiating the treaties Germany signed after the end of the second world war with the allies. "For the time being, the Russian Federation is exclusively the contact point for these negotiations," prosecutors said in a statement.

While Heinrich XIII had made attempts to reach out to Moscow, prosecutors said there was "no indication that the contact reacted positively to his approach".

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