Germany: Neo-Nazi terror and the secret service

Every week new details emerge about the murders carried out by the three far-right terrorists from Zwickau, responsible for killing nine immigrants and a police officer, three bomb attacks and 14 bank raids between 2000 and 2007. These details can lead to only one conclusion: Uwe Mundlos, Beate Zschäpe and Uwe Böhnhardt acted under the very eyes of the German security authorities and were partially aided by them.

The group called itself the “National Socialist Underground” (NSU). In reality, it was not very deep underground. Its members attended demonstrations, concerts and other events, several times holidaying on the Baltic Island of Fehmarn, travelled abroad, and had many supporters and accomplices in right-wing circles—and apparently also within the secret services.

Of 20 supporters of the three terrorists that are now known, all were members of the far-right National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), or were in close contact with it. Inside the NPD, there are more than 130 undercover agents working for the secret service, some in its upper echelons.

Nevertheless, the security authorities claim that they had no knowledge of the existence of the NSU terrorist group until 2011; indeed, they supposedly had no inkling of its existence. Although the murders involved one Greek and eight Turkish small business owners, all following the same pattern and using the same weapon, the prosecution authorities refused to conclude that there was any far-right motive. Instead, they accused the victims and their relatives of having links with Mafia-like networks.

In contrast, the far-right scene knew all about it—and not only in secretive leadership circles. For example, the singer Daniel Giese and his band “Gigi and the Brown Town Musicians”, well known in neo-Nazi circles and to the secret service, recorded the song “Doner [kebab] Killer” in 2009. In it, Giese celebrated the murders of the Zwickau terrorist cell and demanded: “Nine is not enough”.

The CD on which the song appeared was banned in 2010 by the authorities. And yet, they claim not to have noticed the existence of the terrorist cell!

The far-right scene in Thuringia, the home state of the three NSU members, had been under surveillance since the early 1990s by the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution (LfV), as the secret service is called. Between 1993 and 1995, the authorities in Thuringia recorded 1,257 right-wing extremist crimes. From the start, Böhnhardt, Mundlos and Zschäpe were under the eyes of the police and secret service. The same applies to many others who now are considered to have helped the three during the past 15 years, including Tino Brandt, Ralf Wohlleben and André Kapke. These three were all members of the “Thuringian Homeland Security”, in which the three terrorists were also active.

From 1994 to 2004, Tino Brandt was an informer for the secret service in Thuringia. During this time, he received 200,000 deutschmarks from the secret service, which by his own account he used to build up the right-wing organization. From 1999, he was NPD state spokesman, and was deputy chairman from 2000.

Ralf Wohlleben joined the NPD in 1999, founding its Jena District Association, of which he was chairman. From 2002, he was deputy chairman of the Thuringia NPD and was also its press spokesman. In September 2010 he left the NPD.

André Kapke was active in the far-right scene in Thuringia since the early 1990s. For a time, he worked for the right-wing newspaper Neues Denken (New Thinking), which was founded in 1997 with DM23,000 start-up assistance from the Thuringia Ministry of Social Affairs. For two years, he was a member of the NPD.

Holger G., who has since been arrested, also moved in those circles. He rented vehicles for the terrorist trio, including mobile homes, used by Mundlos and Böhnhardt in the murder of the policewoman Michele Kiesewetter in 2007 in Heilbronn, and in a bank robbery in Eisenach in November this year. The car, with which the perpetrators fled following the murder of Mehmet Kubasik in Dortmund in April 2006, was also rented in his name.

A report by the Thuringia Secret Service noted as early as 1995 that there were  “indications of the formation of right-wing extremist terrorist groups”. Between November 24 and December 1, 1997, the secret service had Böhnhardt, Mundlos and Zschäpe under surveillance. When the Thuringia State Police searched a garage on January 26, 1998 that Zschäpe had rented in Jena, and found 1.4 kilos of TNT and other bomb paraphernalia, Böhnhardt, who was present during the search, was able to get away without being detained.

A few months later, in May 1998, the Thuringishce Landeszeitung quoted anonymous secret service officers who testified that Böhnhardt, Mundlos and Zschäpe “exemplify a new nationwide danger” for the “development of a brown [Nazi] terrorist scene”.

The secret service knew at that time that Mundlos had written the article “Thoughts on the [far-right] scene”, published in 1998 in the journal White Supremacy of the global neo-Nazi network “Blood & Honour”. In it, Mundlos railed against “comrades” who had not made “struggle the axis of their life”, but rather “pleasure”.

The secret service was well informed about the inner workings of “Blood & Honour”. The then leader of the Thuringia brown music network, Marcel Dienel, worked for them. With Tino Brandt and Dienel, the intelligence authorities had the two most important neo-Nazis in Thuringia on their payroll. According to admissions by the Thuringia state government, there was also a third spy in the environs of the Jena neo-Nazis.

Nevertheless, in 1998 Mundlos was able to use the identity card of the supporter Max B. to apply for and obtain a new passport. The officials who processed the application apparently did not realize that before them stood not Max, but another individual.

In September 1998, the Brandenburg State Secret Service informed its counterparts in Saxony and Thuringia, and the federal office in Cologne, that one of its informants, code name “Plato”, had reported that the Saxon neo-Nazi Jan W. was about to procure weapons for Böhnhardt, Zschäpe and Mundlos. The money for the weapons came from the “Blood & Honour” network, whose “White Supremacy” bulletins were published in Jan W’s name. The trio wanted to use the weapons for “further (!) attacks”, and get away using “borrowed” passports.

Despite these numerous indications of a terrorist network and the discovery of explosives in the garage in Jena, on March 4, 1999, the Federal Criminal Police (BKA) told the attorney general in a four-page memo that the state prosecutor Gera had come to the conclusion that it was only “a loose network of individual offenders”. The prosecutor’s office saw no evidence of a terrorist group, it said. The attorney general, who refused to take over the case, accepted this. The local prosecutor only investigated the crime of preparing an explosion, which then lapsed under the statute of limitations in 2003.

“Blood & Honour” continued to support the NSU terrorists, however. At a secret concert in 2008, money was collected for the trio, according to an insider speaking to Spiegel Online.

The central figure who appears in the files from the years 1998 and 1999, and who is now increasingly coming to public attention, is the former Thuringia NPD Chairman Ralf Wohlleben. He is now in prison for allegedly giving the murderous trio a weapon and ammunition. Intelligence officials noted in 1998 that Wohlleben allegedly had “direct access” to the three fugitives and was their “contact person”, “functioning as logistic support”.

Wohlleben was under constant surveillance. The notes on him fill up several files. Those carrying out the surveillance knew he was in contact with the trio. In March 1999, they noted: “Wohlleben pleased with a quick donation (500 marks)”, the three needed “money urgently”. In 2001, Ralf Wohlleben told an undercover agent that contact with the parents of the escapees was currently “impaired”—i.e., they had previously had contact with their parents.

In a memo dated April 2001, it states, Wohlleben declined donations. The three no longer needed money. “In the meantime” they had carried out many “things / actions”, about which the “interlocutor did not wish to know”. At this time, the trio had robbed three banks.

Tino Brandt also protected the trio after they had gone to ground. The informant—code name “Otto”—was kept abreast by the secret service of the surveillance activities of the police, as the Berliner Zeitung reported recently.

In 2000, Brandt received DM2, 000 from the secret service, to give to the three right-wing terrorists for new passports. The Thuringia Secret Service knew from intercepted phone calls that the neo-Nazi group then urgently needed money for new passports, despite the bank robberies they had carried out.

The secret service sought to justify this financial support, saying they used it to obtain concrete clues as to the location and cover names of the terrorists. Apparently, the money never reached them. Nevertheless, they were able to obtain new passports without difficulty because the secret service never told the passport registration offices in Saxony about them.

Using the new passports, the trio travelled to Norway and Sweden, possibly also to Switzerland, from where the murder weapon came—a Ceska83 pistol.

The Thuringia Secret Service also purchased at least four copies of the anti-Semitic board game “Pogromly”, produced by the terror trio at home, so providing them another DM400.

The secret service also possessed dozens of clues as to the location of the trio in Chemnitz, where the first bank robbery occurred in October 1999. At this time, there were more than 20 surveillance operations mounted against right-wing extremists. A surveillance photo shows Böhnhardt in May 2000 in the parking lot of a shopping market in Chemnitz, as he is loading something into a car.

A little later, in September 2000, the secret service kept the apartment of Mandy S. in Chemnitz under surveillance, who at that time was in contact with the “Eastern Brigade”, a far-right group in the Saxony town of Johanngeorgstadt. The secret service had received a tip-off that Böhnhardt would meet with a supporter there. The Saxony State Secret Service used a safe house from which they took pictures of Böhnhardt. But they supposedly did not recognize him. Less than three weeks earlier, on September 9, Böhnhardt and Mundlos had killed the florist Enver Şimşek in cold blood in Nuremberg.

The then president of the Thuringia State Secret Service, Helmut Roewer, a former tank officer and under secretary in the Ministry of the Interior, was suspended in 2000 after it became known that former Thuringia NPD leader Thomas Dienel was his informant in 1996/97. Dienel had received DM25,000, with which he financed the right-wing extremist scene. Roewer now writes for a right-wing Swiss publication.

Secret service information in March 2002 that the trio were back in Chemnitz did not lead to their capture. Der Spiegel asks: “Were they possibly warned?” In the same year, the father of Uwe Mundlos received an anonymous letter, which claimed that one of his son’s partners was an “employee of the Thuringia Secret Service”. A charge against Mundlos’s father for aiding a criminal’s escape came to nothing.

In 2003, the arrest warrants against Zschäpe, Mundlos and Böhnhardt were lifted because of the statute of limitations, and officially, no state authority was still looking for them, even though Böhnhardt was supposedly still being sought until 2007 because of a juvenile offense.

A confidential paper by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (secret service) of July 2004 states: “Notwithstanding the fact that the ‘bomb-makers of Jena’ succeeded for years to evade arrest, there is no effective support network to conduct a sustained campaign from the underground”. At this time, the Nazis had already killed five immigrants—Enver Şimşek, Abdurrahim Özüdo&;ru, Süleyman Taşköprü, Habil Kılıç and Mehmet Turgut.

Police “profilers” had come to the conclusion that the murders were the work of a right-wing serial killer. But the secret service would have none of it. The same year, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution disbanded its “right-wing extremism department”.

The murder of the migrants was blamed on a “foreign drug mafia”. A 2006 BKA internal memo, quoted in the current edition of Der Spiegel, says, “Almost all the evidence” pointed to the victims of the trio being “involved in various ways in drug trafficking”. “Politically or religiously motivated murders”, according to the BKA, were “unlikely”.

The men were supposedly killed as punishment by an “internationally organized” drug mafia; the murders were “carried out professionally”. The bereaved families of the victims were then put under pressure to admit to connections between their murdered relatives and “organized crime”.

In one murder—that of Halit Yozgat in an Internet cafe in Kassel in 2006—it was proved that an officer of the Hesse State Secret Service was at the scene. Andrew T., who was called “little Adolf” by friends, was said to have also been in the vicinity of the crime scenes in five other murders.

The Erfurt State Attorney is currently investigating “several persons” on suspicion of obstructing the course of justice in office. The spokesman for the prosecutor, Hannes Grüneisen, told Focus that it appears that this is now covered by the statute of limitations.

Rumours are now emanating from the Interior Ministry that Beate Zschäpe, the only survivor of the terror trio, will not be tried for murder, accessory to murder, or membership of a terrorist organization. Since she has remained silent and will continue to do so in the view of the Interior Ministry, it would not be possible to prove conspiracy or participation in the 10 killings carried out by the NSU. A thinly veiled invitation for Zschäpe to keep quiet!

The consequence would be that the NSU would not be considered a terrorist organization. Since according to Penal Code Section 129a this must consist of at least three people. Böhnhardt and Mundlos would then be regarded in a legal sense as lone perpetrators, reported the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung, with reference to Interior Ministry circles.

At least 10 dead, three bomb attacks in Cologne, Jena and Saarbrücken and 14 bank robberies are attributable to the three right-wing terrorists from Zwickau. Politicians and the media speak of “failures, bad luck and mishaps” and “breakdowns”. But the alleged “mishaps” or “failures” have assumed a scale that lead to only one conclusion: The far-right terrorist scene is being protected by the state.