Twenty-five people including a 71-year-old German aristocrat, a retired military commander and former MP for the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) have been detained in Germany on suspicion of a terrorist plan to overthrow the state and renegotiate the country’s post-second world war settlement.
Thousands of police carried out a series of raids across Germany on Wednesday morning in connection with the far-right ring.
Federal prosecutors said 3,000 officers conducted searches at 130 sites in 11 of Germany’s 16 states against the group, whose members it said adhered to a “conglomerate of conspiracy theories” including the QAnon cult and the so-called Reich Citizens movement.
Prosecutors said 22 German citizens were detained on suspicion of “membership in a terrorist organisation”. Three other detainees, including a female Russian citizen, were suspected of supporting the organisation, they said.
Der Spiegel reported that locations searched included the barracks of Germany’s special forces unit KSK, in the south-western town of Calw. The unit has in the past been scrutinised over alleged far-right involvement by some soldiers. Federal prosecutors declined to confirm or deny that the barracks was searched.
Along with detentions in Germany, prosecutors said one person was detained in the Austrian town of Kitzbühel and another in Perugia in Italy.
German media have identified as the group’s ringleaders Heinrich XIII, 71, a descendant of the noble Reuß family that used to rule over parts of eastern Germany in the 12th century, and a former senior field officer at the German army’s paratrooper battalion named only as Rüdiger von P.
Last year, the pair founded a “terrorist organisation with the goal of overturning the existing state order in Germany and replacing it with their own form of state, which was already in the course of being founded”, with Rüdiger von P in charge of planning the military coup and Heinrich XIII mapping out Germany’s future political order.
The group had even started to nominate ministers for a transitional post-coup government, reported the newspaper Die Zeit, in which one of the suspects, the former AfD MP Birgit Malsack-Winkemann, 58, was to be federal minister for justice.
The group was convinced modern Germany was run by a “deep state” conspiracy that was about to be exposed by an alliance of German intelligence agencies and the militaries of foreign states including Russia and