Federal prosecutors in Germany have confirmed that a second soldier has been arrested in connection to a foiled terrorist attack in which right-wing Germans plotted to kill politicians and blame Muslim asylum seekers.
The suspect, identified by Der Spiegel Online as Maximilian T., was seized by authorities in Kehl, Baden-Württemberg on Tuesday morning. The 27-year-old soldier had been based at the same Franco-German military base as Franco Albrecht, whose arrest last April recovered the plot.
Albrecht has become notorious in Germany for managing to create a false identity as a Syrian refugee, convincing immigration authorities that he was a fruit seller from Damascus. Despite not speaking any Arabic, Albrecht was granted asylum in Germany, offered a space in a refugee shelter and granted monthly benefits.
Prosecutors allege that Albrecht and Maximilian T. had drawn up a kill list of multiple high-profile German politicians, including the pro-refugee former President Joachim Gauck and current Justice Minister Heiko Maas.
Former German President Joachim Gauck hands out food to homeless people during a visit to the railway mission at the Zoo in Berlin last month [Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa]
Along with a third conspirator, 24-year-old student Mathias F., the trio sourced a gun and plotted murders that would “be seen by the population as a radical Islamist terrorist act committed by a recognised refugee,” a police statement said.
Austrian police apprehended Albrecht in Vienna Airport while he was attempting to retrieve the loaded pistol he had hidden in a toilet while lying low. An investigation into the soldier revealed that he had created a false identity and had been posing as a Syrian refugee since December 2015.
The terrorist plotters conspired to carry out their murders in response to Germany welcoming more than one million refugees from the Middle East since 2015. The initial warm reaction the asylum seekers from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan received upon arrival in Germany has soured, with several high-profile incidents leading to an anti-Muslim backlash, rising nationalism, and hate crimes.
Heiko Maas, the Justice & Consumer Protection Minister, was also on the list of targets prepared by the soldiers [Paul Zinken/DPA/PA Images]
Prosecutors believe Albrecht was the intended assassin, having created the false identity of a refugee who would be blamed for murdering a high-profile politician and turning the tide of public opinion against all Muslim refugees.
Maximilian T., who serves in the same infantry battalion as Albrecht, is accused of being his co-conspirator, covering his tracks by making excuses for Albrecht’s absence from the base. Prosecutors also believe the two men worked together to get their hands on a handgun to complete their mission.
Both men, close friends in their civilian lives, were also exposed by an investigation of being part of an online chat group in which they posted right-wing extremist content.
“They were prepared to kill for their cause, or at least that’s what they claimed,” an investigator told Der Spiegel.