German officials: Ex-soldiers tried to form mercenary group

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s federal prosecutor on Thursday charged two former soldiers with trying to form a terrorist organization by allegedly attempting to build a mercenary group that would have intervened in the military conflict in Yemen.

The federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement that “the defendants are sufficiently suspected of having attempted, as ringleaders, to establish a terrorist organization.”

They said the men, identified only as Arend-Adolf G. and Achim A. in keeping with Germany privacy laws, allegedly decided in early 2021 to create their own mercenary group of between 100 and 150 former soldiers or members of the police.

Both suspects are German citizens and former members of the Bundeswehr.

The men’s primary motivation was to earn about 40,000 euros ($43.900) each per month by offering the group’s services to third parties, specifically Saudi Arabia, prosecutors said. The oil-rich kingdom has intervened in the conflict in neighboring Yemen against the Houthi rebel group.

Prosecutors said the men’s attempts to contact Saudi officials were unsuccessful.

The men were aware that their plans for military intervention in Yemen would inevitably require them to kill people, and they were aware that civilians might be injured and killed too, prosecutors said.

The federal prosecutor’s statement added that the suspects’ “ideas were also supported by messages from a fortune teller, which the defendants understood as binding instructions for action.” It did not elaborate.

Both suspects were detained in southern Germany in October.

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