Germany bans neo-Nazi group launched in UK and conducts raids across country

The neo-Nazi group Combat 18 has been banned in Germany as part of a crackdown on right-wing extremism following the assassination of a political official.

Interior minister Horst Seehofer announced the move as state police raided the homes of leading members of the organisation, which has spread around the world since it was founded in the UK in 1992.

“Today’s ban is a clear message,” said Mr Seehofer. “Right-wing extremism and antisemitism have no place in our society!”

Explaining his decision, the minister directly referred to last year’s murder of Walter Lübcke, an official in Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, the shooting at a synagogue in Halle and a series of murders by the “National Socialist Underground”.

He said in a statement that the incidents “have shown us brutally that right-wing extremism and antisemitism are a significant danger to our free society”.
Police officers are standing in front of an apartment building in Erfurt, Germany,
Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020. Germany’s top security official has announced
a ban on the neo-Nazi group ‘Combat 18’ Deutschland.
A spokesman for Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said police were
conducting raids early Thursday in six German states.
(Jens-Ulrich Koch/dpa via AP)

The ban on Combat 18 would ”effectively protect our free democratic basic order and our value system”, he added. 

In the early hours of Thursday morning police seized weapons, Nazi memorabilia and propaganda materials during searches of properties in six federal states, including Brandenburg, Hesse, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Thuringia. A total of 210 state officers were involved in the operation.

The interior ministry said “Combat 18 Germany” were mostly active in the sale of extremist merchandise, the distribution of antisemitic music and the organisation of far-right concerts. 

However members of the group were convicted of illegally transporting ammunition to Germany from the Czech Republic in September 2017.

Confiscated weapons and a shield from the
Combat 18 criminal neo-Nazi group are kept
by the Schleswig-Holstein State Criminal Police Office.
Photo: dpa / Horst Pfeiffer
The last time the federal law was used to ban a right-wing extremist group was in February 2016 against the neo-Nazi “White Wolves Terror Crew”.

Germany has increasingly sought to tackle right-wing extremism in recent years, amid rising concern over the growth of support for anti-immigration movements such as Pegida and Alternative for Germany​ (AfD).

Mr Lübcke, a conservative politician known for his pro-migrant views, was shot dead at his home near the German city of Kassel in June last year. Suspect Stephan Ernst, who is said to be a far-right extremist, still awaits trial.

Neo-nazi Stephan Balliet, 27, also awaits trial on two counts of murder following the Halle synagogue attack in October.

Source: independent