German prosecutors suspect terror of extremist ban plan

BERLIN (AP) — German federal prosecutors on Tuesday resumed an investigation into anti-government extremists who allegedly planned to cause a long blackout across the country and kidnap the country’s health minister, saying there is evidence that the group constituted a terrorist organization.

Four German men were arrested on April 13 for their alleged role in the plot, which authorities said was intended to produce “civil war-like conditions” and ultimately bring down the government and parliamentary democracy.

Federal prosecutors, who handle terrorism and national security cases in Germany, said they were stepping in because there are enough indications that the suspects may have founded or belong to a terrorist organization. The men are also suspected of having prepared an act of serious violence and of having violated the laws on weapons.

Investigators said the suspects were associated with the protest movement against coronavirus restrictions and the Citizens of the Reich movement, which challenges the legitimacy of Germany’s post-WWII constitution and, by extension, government current.

Authorities said at the time of the arrests that the group’s stated aim was to destroy electricity supply facilities and cause a long blackout across the country as part of its aim to sow chaos. Police seized 22 firearms, including a Kalashnikov rifle, along with hundreds of cartridges, thousands of euros in cash and numerous gold bars and silver coins. They also found fake COVID-19 vaccination and test certificates.

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said earlier this month that the investigation indicated “a serious terrorist threat” and that Health Minister Karl Lauterbach’s kidnapping plan and fantasies of overthrowing democracy constituted “a new quality of threat”.

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