Neo-Nazi Terror Investigation
Intelligence Agency Reportedly Sabotaged Police
The Thuringia state intelligence agency headquarters in Erfurt.
The Zwickau neo-Nazi trio of Beate Zschäpe, Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt went underground in 1998. Police tried to find them, but new information indicates that state intelligence agents sabotaged their efforts.
Unnamed security officials told daily Berliner Zeitung that the domestic intelligence agency in the state of Thuringia told neo-Nazi leader Tino Brandt about police surveillance of his activities. At the time, Brandt was an active informant for the intelligence agency, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution.
Brandt was also told that the Thuringia police had rented an apartment near his Rudolstadt house, the paper reported. The neo-Nazi leader's contacts described which vehicles were being used by the police observation team. Things went so far that at one point intelligence agents in cars were following the police observation team's cars, which were following Brandt, the paper said.
The latest details in the case -- already plagued with tales of police and intelligence errors -- come after daily Bild am Sonntag reported on Sunday that the intelligence agency had given Brandt some 2,000 deutsche marks to help the terrorist cell to acquire new passports. Though agents also arranged a middleman, the money never reached the trio, who are now believed to have formed a group called the National Socialist Underground (NSU) and were allegedly responsible for at least 10 murders over seven years, including nine men of Turkish and Greek origin and a police officer.
The case, which came to light in early November after Mundlos shot Böhnhardt and himself in a camping vehicle in Eisenach following a botched bank robbery, has shocked Germany and sparked a new debate over whether the country is doing enough to stop the activities of neo-Nazis. It has also led to renewed calls to ban the NPD.
Suspect Refusing to Talk
Another report from daily Süddeutsche Zeitung on Sunday cited a former unnamed intelligence agency informant saying that he had been told to buy at least four copies of a board game created by the Zwickau cell called "Pogromly." The "tasteless" game was a neo-Nazi themed version of Monopoly, reportedly produced and sold by the group to support their underground activities.
Meanwhile prosecutors may have trouble charging the only surviving member of the Zwickau cell, Beate Zschäpe, with murder, complicity in murder or belonging to a terrorist group, daily Mitteldeutsche Zeitung reported on Monday. According to high-level sources within the German interior ministry, they may only be able to accuse her of arson for burning the group's apartment before turning herself in after her alleged accomplices were found dead.
Zschäpe has refused to tell officials about her involvement in the group. She is expected to remain silent, giving law enforcement officials no way to prove her involvement in the far-right group's allegedly murderous activities, or that the NSU was indeed a terrorist organization, the paper said.
Federal Public Prosecutor General Harald Range has already said in interviews that he will not invoke a rule that could mitigate Zschäpe's sentence in exchange for her testimony. The crimes of which she is accused are too serious, he said.
--kla, with wires