The AfD finds the new constitution protection report dangerous for the first time and names extreme right-wing dangers. A novelty.
It is clear words that Horst Seehofer loses. “Right-wing extremism is the greatest threat to security in Germany,” says the Interior Minister. The number of offenses is high, the rampant anti-Semitism “a shame for our country”. Thomas Haldenwang, the head of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, also strongly warns against right-wing extremists, the “super spreaders of hatred, radicalization and violence”. These “contaminate social coexistence”, the threat of right-wing violence is high.
Seehofer and Haldenwang present the new annual constitution protection report in Berlin on Thursday. And they have every reason to express themselves. Most recently there were the right-wing extremist attacks in Halle and Hanau, the Kassel government president Walter Lübcke was murdered. In addition, hate comments rage on the Internet. And the AfD continues to drift to the right.
In fact, Seehofer and Haldenwang are now presenting a novelty. The AfD appears in the constitution protection report for the first time, in the form of its now – formally – dissolved wing around Björn Höcke and the party youth. In March the Office for the Protection of the Constitution classified the wing as a full observation object and “proved extremist”. The “Young Alternative” (YES) runs as a suspected case. Now both organizations are ensuring a sharp increase in the right-wing extremists counted from the office: from 24,100 in the previous year to 32,080.
The Office for the Protection of the Constitution sees 7,000 supporters in the wing alone – twice as many as the NPD. The AfD youth are attributed to 1,600 members. With these numbers, he follows the statements of the AfD leadership, says Haldenwang, and his own knowledge. Which? Haldenwang is silent. But: With the classifications, the secret service can now watch the wing and the YES, tap internal information or even recruit spies.
New focus on right-wing extremism
And Seehofer supports the procedure. He is “very much in agreement” with Haldenwang’s statements, explains the CSU man. Both men contest a dissent about the wing and YES suspected by the media. Rather, Seehofer also warns of “intellectual arsonists” in this country.
An empty space for years: Seehofer lacks clarity when it comes to extremism in the ranks of the security authorities
It is the new course for the protection of the constitution that is now reflected. For years, the office, still under Hans-Georg Maassen, had primarily looked at Islamism. At the AfD, Maassen slowed down a decision on how to deal with the far right party. Then the right-wing marches from Chemnitz – and Haldenwang, until then Vice, came into office at the end of 2018.
Even then, the 60-year-old declared right-wing extremism to be a new focus. He doubled the responsible department in the house. Haldenwang sees itself confirmed in its way on Thursday, refers to the recent attacks and 13,000 right-wing extremists classified as violent or the 17 percent increase in anti-Semitic crimes. The head of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution calls the perpetrators “hatred that has become real”.
And Haldenwang has also been heating up since he took office. Not only the AfD, which as a whole is a test case, but the entire scene has now been classified: the Institute for State Policy by Götz Kubitschek, the Compact-Jürgen Elsässer magazine, the identities and the “One percent” network. “They all construct scapegoats, stir up hysteria and images of the enemy,” warns Haldenwang. They too “sow our social ruin and provoke hatred, discord and violence”.
Seehofer has to put up with questions
But the path is not without controversy and is not followed by all federal states. In the end, Saxony seemed to be leaving, of all places. At the beginning of July, Interior Minister Roland Wöller (CDU) transferred constitutional protection officer Gordian Meyer-Plath because his state office allegedly illegally saved data from eight AfD MPs and did not want to delete them. AfD party chairman Tino Chrupalla was among the deputies. The transferred constitutional activist Meyer-Plath disagreed, saw his work cut and the observation of the New Right in danger.
Left Extreme Here, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution counts a slight increase to 33,500 people, 9,200 see it as violence-oriented. The number of left offenses rose significantly from 4,622 to 6,449 offenses. The Office for the Protection of the Constitution attests to an increased militancy in the scene: the consensus in the scene not to attack people is eroding. Even homicides are now accepted. A hotspot is now Leipzig.
Islamists The number of Salafists increases slightly to 12,150 people. 650 Islamists are listed as ready to attack. The scene caused 362 crimes last year. However, the threat situation remains high as IS and al-Qaida continue to call for attacks.
Haldenwang moves away from Meyer-Plath on Thursday, however, and indicates that the data storage was actually not in line with the practice of the other offices. He has meanwhile had a conversation with Wöller and the new head of the state office, Dirk-Martin Christian. You now work “absolutely shoulder to shoulder”.
Seehofer also has to put up with questions. Right-wing extremists in the police and armed forces are currently being discussed. It has only recently become known that after the Frankfurt lawyer Seda Başay-Yıldız, the Hessian left-wing faction leader Janine Wissler has also received threatening letters from an “NSU 2.0”. With data that appears to have been previously accessed by a police computer. Seehofer calls the process “completely unacceptable”, it must be “ruthlessly clarified”.
Extremists in the security authorities have been a blank in the security reports for years. This time, three sentences are dedicated to them. Extremists in the public service “shake trust in public places”, their attitude contradicts the “cornerstones of professional civil servants”. Since the staff have access to sensitive information and knowledge of the actions of the security authorities, there is a particular danger, the warning. But it doesn’t get any more detailed.
Security agencies remain a blind spot
For months now, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution has been promising an overview of these extremists in the public service. The state offices, however, find it difficult to collect data: they cannot check the staff members across the board, but only collect extremists who have been blown up. Seehofer speaks of a “Herculean task”. Now, at the end of September, there will be a smaller picture of the situation, initially only to the security authorities, he promises.
Seehofer himself also has to justify himself for his latest capers. The Interior Minister was supposed to present the constitutional protection report two and a half weeks ago – he canceled the appointment at the last minute. Because of the riots in Stuttgart, Seehofer now asserts. In fact, it was more likely the debate at that time about Seehofer’s interim report against the taz because of a column about the police.
Seehofer also has to justify his cancellation of a planned study on racial profiling in the police. He wants to proceed step by step, says the CSU man. First the situation should come to the security authorities, then possibly other measures. Rather, Seehofer praises himself and the federal government, referring to a package of measures decided in autumn 2019: Never before has right-wing extremism been dealt with as consistently as today.
In fact, neo-Nazi groups such as Combat 18 have recently been banned, a law against hate postings on the Internet has been passed, which has tightened gun laws. But when it comes to extremism in the ranks of the security authorities, Seehofer lacks this clarity.
Haldenwang is offensive
Minister of Justice Christine Lambrecht (SPD) is putting pressure on the study on racial profiling, and the Council of Europe is also calling for the investigation. The Federal Cabinet wants to discuss this again.
The AfD in turn wedged against the protection of the constitution on Thursday. As a “political instrument of the old parties”, she expectedly insults the service and complains about an “observation club” against itself. The AfD had even filed a complaint against the mention of the wing and the party youth in the current constitutional protection report. The judges rejected this: there are “important” indications that both groups are unconstitutional. And the Office for the Protection of the Constitution acts as an early warning system.
Haldenwang is therefore offensive on Thursday. Just look closely at how the wing players around Höcke are currently affecting the party as a whole, he threatens the AfD. And one would “not cease to identify and name extremists”. Finally, Haldenwang issues a “warning”: “The state will take decisive action against all forms of violence. No extremist or terrorist can feel safe anymore. “