German neo-Nazis charged with plans to nail-bomb refugee shelters, kill clerics

© Thomas Peter
Four German members of a hardcore neo-Nazi terror cell have been charged with planning to bomb refugee shelters and assassinate Salafi clerics, media report. It comes alongside warnings by German politicians far-right violence against refugees is on the rise.

Federal prosecutor Peter Frank filed criminal charges against four suspects of a neo-Nazi terror cell called “Oldschool Society” on Wednesday, according to German media.

The four, including one woman, were referred to as Andreas H., 57, Markus W., 40, Denise Vanessa G., 23, and Olaf O., 47, in the media reports. Together, they allegedly formed the inner core of the neo-Nazi terror group. The four extremists began meeting in November 2014, well before the influx of refugees reached current record levels, and launched a Facebook group to propagate their ideas and recruit affiliates.

Their Facebook cover at the time was an infamous photo of an entrance to Auschwitz concentration camp reading “Arbeit macht frei” (“Work will make you free”), Spiegel reports. They also posted a YouTube recruitment advertisement saying, “We need every man, every woman to fight together for our homeland.”

The "Oldschool Society" also used WhatsApp and Telegram messengers for communication, and set up a clandestine HQ dubbed “Privy council.”

By May 2015, the neo-Nazi group was reportedly ready to carry out “a couple of actions” against refugee shelters, including one in the German town of Borna. It ordered its members to wear “black, casual clothes,” according to wiretapped phone conversations cited by Der Spiegel.

At the same time, the Oldschool Society allegedly sent Markus W. and Denise Vanessa G. to the Czech Republic, where they were tasked with buying large amount of explosive materials, while another suspect, Andreas H., worked on how to increase the power of their nail bombs. 

The terror group members were detained in May 2015 following an operation by dozens of GSG 9 elite counterterrorist operatives, who simultaneously raided the homes of 10 neo-Nazis, including those of Andreas H., Markus W., Denise Vanessa G. and Olaf O. Explosive devices labeled “Cobra” and “Viper” as well as baseball bats were found in the suspects’ locations.

“That was quite a dangerous group,” an unnamed investigator told journalists. “It could quickly grow up and turn into a terrorist community.”

As refugees from war-torn and underdeveloped countries continue to arrive in Germany, far-right violence against them is growing.

At least 817 attacks on refugee shelters have been carried out since the beginning of 2015, according to Germany’s Criminal Police Office statistics. The numbers represent a fourfold increase on 2014, when there were 199 cases. The crimes include arson, property damage and hate graffiti. More than 750 of the 817 attacks were reportedly carried out by right-wing extremists, while in 2014 they were responsible for 177 of the 199.