German coup plot: Police raid far-right terrorists behind ‘overthrow’ attempt

Thousands of police officers in Germany carried out a series of raids early Wednesday against suspected far-right extremists who allegedly tried to overthrow the country in an armed coup.

The suspects reportedly wanted to install a senior member of a German noble family as the country’s new leader and were in contact with Russian officials about the plan.

The Russian embassy in Berlin has denied any ties to terrorist groups or illegal organizations in Germany.

Federal prosecutors said about 3,000 police raided 130 locations in 11 of Germany’s 16 states against supporters of the so-called Reich Citizens Movement. Some members of the group reject Germany’s post-war constitution and call for the overthrow of the government.

Justice Minister Marko Bushman described the raids as an “anti-terrorist operation,” adding that the suspects may have planned an armed attack on state institutions.

Prosecutors announced that 22 German citizens were detained on suspicion of “membership in a terrorist organization.” Three more people, including a Russian citizen, are suspected of supporting the organization, they said.

The weekly Der Spiegel reported that the locations sought include the barracks of German special forces units of the KSK in the southwestern city of Kalvo. The unit has come under scrutiny in the past due to the alleged far-right involvement of some soldiers.

Federal prosecutors have refused to confirm or deny that the barracks were searched.

Along with the detentions in Germany, prosecutors announced that one person was detained in the Austrian city of Kitzbühel, and another in the Italian city of Perugia.

Prosecutors announced that the detainees allegedly founded a “terrorist organization last year with the aim of abolishing the existing state order in Germany and replacing it with their own form of state, which was already in the process of being established.”

The suspects were aware that their goal could only be achieved by military means and force, prosecutors said.

They allegedly believed in “a conglomeration of conspiracy theories consisting of the narratives of so-called citizens of the Reich, as well as the ideology of Kanon,” according to a statement from prosecutors. They added that members of the group also believe that Germany is ruled by the so-called ‘deep state’; similar baseless claims about the United States were made by former President Donald Trump.

Prosecutors have identified two suspected ringleaders, with Der Spiegel reporting that one is a well-known 71-year-old member of a German noble family, while the other is a 69-year-old former paratrooper.

Federal prosecutors said the group planned to install a minor nobleman as Germany’s new leader and contacted Russian officials to negotiate a new order for the country once the German government is toppled. A Russian woman allegedly helped him in this.

“According to current investigations, however, there is no indication that the individuals contacted responded positively to his request,” prosecutors said.

Another person detained by police on Wednesday was identified as a female judge and former member of parliament from the far-right Alternative for Germany party.

The party, known by its German acronym AfD, is increasingly under scrutiny by German security services for its links to extremists.

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