Security officials attached to the Interior Ministry are tracking the growing risk of violence from far-right extremists – who number approximately 24,000 in Germany, fully half of whom are thought to be potentially violent – according to a parliamentary reply made public on Friday.
Among the 12,700 seen as prepared to commit acts of violence, there are some with an "affinity to weapons," according to a response to a query from Konstantin Kuhle, spokesman for the interior for the minority liberal opposition party, the Free Democrats (FDP). Speaking to the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung newspaper, Kuhle called for "a new concept to counter radicalization over the internet."
According to the ministry's response, right-wingers are using the internet to communicate via social networks and messaging services. "These are the platforms on which the scene moves, exchanges and strives to disseminate its propaganda," it said. Kuhle told the newspaper: "The authorities' digital competence and equipment must be improved to ensure that communication about rightist extremist attacks does not turn into actual deeds."
Frequent use of the internet has become popular among many far-right groups as they spread their views and propaganda primarily through social media networks popular with young people. This also leads various far-right extremist groups from different countries to connect through the internet to propagate their message. As their provocative and offensive views circulate more quickly and broadly among internet users, their online propaganda operations enable them to recruit new followers.
The Interior Ministry response said that domestic intelligence officials were viewing several hundred relevant internet presences or profiles and channels relating to right-wing extremists. Intelligence services have been increasing surveillance of ultra-right groups which are seen as a growing threat and capable of carrying out terrorist attacks similar to those that left 50 dead at two mosques in New Zealand. In Germany, intelligence agencies will devote 50 percent more staff in 2019 to fighting right-wing groups, Germany's domestic intelligence agency (BfV) chief Thomas Haldenwang said last year.
As support for the far-right has increased over the last four years, German authorities are increasingly concerned over growing right-wing terrorism in the country. Lately, a secret report by BfV revealed this week that right-wing extremists are preparing for "a civil war scenario" by training to use firearms and explosives. Those people are collecting firearms and other supplies in preparation for "a civil war" or "a feared collapse of public order" in the country.
The far-right terrorist group known as the National Socialist Underground (NSU) killed eight Turkish immigrants, one Greek citizen and a German police officer between 2000 and 2007, but the murders had long remained unresolved. The loose and diverse far-right scene includes police and army officers, the report also said. German police have been shaken by an investigation into more police officers in the western German state of Hesse in relation to far-right extremist leanings. The German army has also been shaken by a widening scandal over fears of hardline racist views among soldiers.
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