Media report German KSK special forces commando suspended for right-wing extremism

German media report a lieutenant colonel in the KSK special forces unit has been suspended for right-wing social media posts. His opinions reflected the ideas of the "Reichsbürger" extremist movement.

Germany's Bundeswehr has suspended a lieutenant colonel in the elite Special Forces Command (KSK) commando unit on suspicion of right-wing extremism, according to the military's counterintelligence service MAD.

"The person is already known by the MAD," a spokesperson said. "The responsible authorities have already taken disciplinary measures."

The commando, named Daniel K., has received a service and uniform ban. The suspension was first reported by Bild newspaper, which said the lieutenant colonel was being investigated by the MAD for the spread of right-wing extremism on social media."

According to German news magazine Der Spiegel, Daniel K. posted opinions in a closed Facebook group that reflected the ideas of the so-called "Reichsbürger" (Citizens of the Reich), a extremist movement in Germany that rejects the Federal Republic as a state and does not recognize the government. He allegedly demanded in a post that the Federal Presidential Office be abolished.

Read more: Germany's Reichsbürger movement out to 'delegitimize the state'

Der Spiegel said that Daniel K. was flagged by the MAD in 2007 as a KSK captain after he sent a hate letter to a comrade, for which he received disciplinary sanctions.

Extremism in the Bundeswehr

The KSK, a unit of about 70 soldiers, made headlines last year after a farewell party for a company commander featured a soldier demonstrating the Hitler salute and right-wing rock music.

In January, the accused soldier, Patrick D., accepted a fine amounting to 40 days' pay, or €4,000 ($4,500), after a lengthy trial. He had also been suspended in November 2018. 

The MAD said a few weeks ago that it would be screening the Bundeswehr more closely for supporters of the Reichsbürger movement and the doomsday prepper scene. According to MAD, the number of right-wing extremist cases in 2018 was 270, down from 379 the year before. However, suspected cases of references to Islam in the Bundeswehr increased from 46 to 50 last year, and references to foreign extremism rose from 22 to 35. 

Read more: From Anti-Antifa to Reichsbürger: Germany's far-right movements

Related Subjects

The Reichsbürger movement in Germany

What do Reichsbürger believe?

Reichsbürger translates to "citizens of the Reich." What unites this loose movement is rejection of the modern Federal Republic of Germany. They believe the 1937 or 1871 borders of the German Empire still exist and today's country is an administrative construct still occupied by the Allied powers. Many subscribe to far-right or anti-Semitic ideologies. Their conspiracy theories have been debunked.

The Reichsbürger movement in Germany

How much of a threat are they?

The Reichsbürger scene is a disparate, leaderless movement totalling about 15,000 supporters, according to German intelligence officials. Of those, about 900 have been identified as far-right extremists and 1,000 have a license to own firearms. Authorities are concerned about some members' potential to become violent and have conducted several raids on Reichsbürger suspects to sieze weapons.

The Reichsbürger movement in Germany

Who are its members? One was Mr. Germany

Adrian Ursache, a 42-year-old former winner of the Mister Germany beauty pageant, is also a Reichsbürger member. He is currently facing trial for attempted murder after an August 2016 gun battle with police as they tried to evict him from his home. Typically, Reichsbürger refuse to recognize any state apparatus, printing their own passports and driving licenses.

The Reichsbürger movement in Germany

Jailed for murder

The case of Wolfgang P., who in October 2017 was sentenced to life in prison for murdering a police officer, is seen as a turning point for how German authorities deal with the extremist group. P., an alleged Reichsbürger member, shot at officers who were raiding his home to confiscate weapons.

The Reichsbürger movement in Germany

What are the authorities doing about it?

German authorities have been accused of long underestimating the threat posed by the Reichsbürger. Since the murder of the police officer in Bavaria, law enforcement has been cracking down on them more vigorously. In the past year there have been several raids on Reichsbürger targets. Some German police and military forces have also probed whether they may have Reichsbürger among their own ranks.

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