German far-right group planned mosque massacres

Twelve men were arrested in police raids nationwide, uncovering a stash of weapons that included a pistol, a homemade gun, hand grenades, axes and a crossbow. (AFP)
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Updated 18 February 2020

German far-right group planned mosque massacres

  • Group planned to use arsenal of weaponry to attack Muslims and ignite ‘civil war’
  • Far-right violence is a growing concern in Germany

German police have thwarted a plot by a far-right group to carry out attacks on mosques across the country.

Twelve men were arrested in police raids nationwide, uncovering a stash of weapons that included a pistol, a homemade gun, hand grenades, axes and a crossbow. The weapons were stockpiled for attacks on 10 locations.

The group, which the Welt am Sonntag newspaper reported met through WhatsApp, includes one man said to have an administrative job within the local police in the North Rhine-Westphalia region.

The 12 suspects remain in custody and have yet to be charged. Police continue to seek a 13th member of the group who remains at large.

Prosecutors said the men, who called themselves the Hard Core, wanted to cause “circumstances akin to a civil war” by plotting “attacks against politicians, asylum-seekers and Muslims.”

Leaked excerpts from their conversations reveal a plan to attack mosques in the hopes of retaliatory attacks from Germany’s Muslims and an uprising against the political system.

Abdassamad El-Yazidi, secretary-general of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, described the group’s plans as reaching “unprecedented dimensions in Germany.”

He said Muslims in the country feel “highly insecure”, “abandoned” and “frightened,” and the lack of a “clear, strong expression of solidarity” from wider society is contributing heavily to these feelings.

In response to the group’s alleged intentions, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman said Germany will work to preserve the right of people to practice their religion without danger.

“It is the task of the state, and of course of this government, to protect the free practice of religion in this country, no matter what religion it is,” he said.

Far-right violence is a growing concern in Germany, which last year saw a known neo-Nazi fatally shoot a city president who was supportive of Merkel’s asylum policies.


Three killed in Northern California wildfire; thousands flee

Updated 18 min 55 sec ago

Three killed in Northern California wildfire; thousands flee

  • In Sonoma and Napa counties, more than 50,000 people have been evacuated because of the Glass Fire

SAN FRANCISCO: A Northern California sheriff says three people have died in a fast-moving wildfire west of Redding.
Shasta County Sheriff Eric Magrini announced the deaths during a Monday afternoon update on the Zogg Fire. He did not give any details about the people who died, but said more than 1,200 people are evacuated from that fire.
It’s one of nearly 30 major wildfires burning in California. In Sonoma and Napa counties, more than 50,000 people have been evacuated because of the Glass Fire.
The latest deaths mean that California wildfires have now killed 29 people in this year’s historic fire season. More than 8,100 California wildfires have scorched 5,780 square miles (14,970 square kilometers), and destroyed more than 7,000 buildings.