Germany to disarm far-right extremists, restricts gun access

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s top security officials announced a 10-point plan Tuesday to combat far-right extremism in the country that includes disarming about 1,500 suspected extremists and tightening background checks for those wanting to acquire guns.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said the far right poses the biggest extremist threat to democracy in Germany and said authorities would seek to tackle the issue through prevention and tough measures.

“We want to destroy far-right extremist networks,” Faeser told reporters in Berlin, saying this included targeting financial flows that benefit such groups, including merchandising businesses, music festivals and martial arts events.

Authorities will work to remove gun licenses from suspected extremists, crack down on incitement spread online through social networks and combat conspiracy theories online.

Faeser said an emphasis will also be put on rooting out extremists who work in government agencies, including the security forces. Reports about far-right extremists among the policeand military in Germany have raised particular concerns because of fears that they could use privileged information to target political enemies.

Parliament’s commissioner for the military, Eva Hoegl, said separately Tuesday that there were 252 “reportable events” among German troops in 2021, an increase compared to previous years that she attributed to heightened sensitivity surrounding extremism in the ranks. She called for swifter court martial proceedings so that soldiers found to have broken the law or breached conduct rules can be fired faster.

Thomas Haldenwang, the head of Germany’s BfV domestic intelligence service, said his agency planned to release a report in the coming months about extremists who work for the authorities.

The agency is also monitoring the Alternative for Germany political party after a court ruled last week that it can designate the party as a suspected case of extremism, he said.

Haldenwang said authorities have recorded a small number of far-right extremists traveling to Ukraine as foreign fighters, but most of the chatter online by people saying they planned to do so appeared to be “swagger.”

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Kirsten Grieshaber contributed to this report.

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