When the Far Right Penetrates Law Enforcement | Foreign Affairs

Newspaper investigations and government probes in Germany this year uncovered organized networks of far-right sympathizers in the rank and file of the country’s security services. Last month, military intelligence officials questioned eight individuals, including German soldiers, who are suspected of involvement in an antigovernment “sovereign citizen” movement. Lawmakers sounded the alarm: “There isn’t any room in the military for enemies of the constitution,” the country’s defense minister said. Germans are reckoning with the problem of far-right extremism within their country’s military, intelligence agencies, and law enforcement.

In 2017, a German soldier posed as a Syrian refugee and planned a “false flag” terror attack that would be blamed on Islamist extremists. Far-right groups and political parties seized on the 2015 refugee crisis, in which nearly one million mostly Muslim asylum seekers fleeing conflicts in Syria and elsewhere sought refuge in Germany, to spread Islamophobic and anti-immigrant ideas and promote xenophobic policies. Germany’s annual domestic intelligence report released this July documented a more than 50 percent increase in the number of right-wing extremists in the country since 2014. The German minister of the interior stated that right-wing extremism represented the “biggest security threat to the nation.”

That threat has increasingly manifested within military and law enforcement communities. Over the past two years, the German media has documented numerous instances of far-right extremism in the army, police, and security services, including reports of officers participating in racist and neo-Nazi online chat groups and revelations of a group of soldiers and police officers gathering weapons in preparation for the apocalyptic collapse of the state order—for which they had ordered hundreds of body bags and quicklime and used police databases to create target lists of 25,000 pro-refugee politicians.

When the Far Right Penetrates Law Enforcement | Foreign Affairs