How does one become a Terrorist?
Contents of Construction of the §129(a)-Investigations
The Facts (As of: November 2007)
On July 21, Florian L, Axel H. and Oliver R were arrested on suspicion of attempting to set fire to Bunderswehr (Germany Federal Armed Forces) vehicles on the lands of the MAN-AG Corporation in Brandenburg/Havel (roughly 70 km west of Berlin). On the same day, Andrej Holm was taken into custody, and the homes and workplaces of three others were searched. The charge against all seven: “Membership in the terrorist organization, in accordance with §§129a StGB(German Federal Criminal Code), known as the so-called “militante gruppe”, which has been active since 2001.
In August, several individuals, through formal summons or verbally, were called upon by the Bundeskriminalamt (the Federal Bureau of Crime, BKA) to give evidence against the accused. Nobody has to take the police up on their offer, and, to our knowledge, nobody has done so.
On August 22, Andrej Holm was released from custody by the judge presiding over the case, though the warrant against him still stood. Federal prosecutors appealed the decision. Four days later, without the proper warrant, his residence was once again raided and searched. The reason: a black bag, which was suspected of containing new evidence. The BKA officers found, curiously, copies of documents relating to the case.
On October 10, Federal prosecutors send out written summons to a group of people, consisting of 20 people (friends, acquaintances, as well as individuals whose connection to the accused is inexplicable).
From October 23 until the 26, Federal prosecutors conduct the first round of witness interviews. The overwhelming majority refuse to make any statement. Further interviews are postponed.
On October 24, the Federal Court quashes the warrant against Andrej H. (The judgment was made on Oct. 18th, thus before the witness interviews even took place!) The Federal Court claims explain their initial grounds for suspicion. They claim that Andrej
- is involved with Berlin’s radical left scene
- co-edited recent issues of the journal “radikal”
- has met with the one of the accused arsonists “conspiratorially”
Although the Federal Prosecutors could justify the investigation on these grounds, it did not constitute enough for a warrant. Thus the only legal way the court could continue to hold him was if Andre was considered to be strongly suspected of a crime. The Federal Court: “The circumstantial evidence so far uncovered by the investigation does not constitute clearly membership in the “militant group” on the part of the accused, rather maybe interpreted in different ways”
On November 28, 2007, the Federal Court moves, firstly, to quash the arrest warrants against Axel, Oliver, and Florian, and, secondly, the so-called “militant group” (that the accused are being accused of being members of) is no longer going to be seen as a “terrorist organization” (under §129a), but rather as a “criminal organization” (under §129):
“The accused are strongly suspected of both the events of July 31, 2007 and belonging to the ‘militant group.’ This constitutes legally not the charge of membership in a terrorist organization (§129a StGB), rather that of membership in a criminal organization (§129 StGB). While the activities of the militant certainly does line up with a militant group—particularly fire attacks against buildings and vehicles of state-owned institutions and private contractors or other institutions—the group can not be classified as a terrorist organization.”
Nonetheless, the investigation remains under the jurisdiction of Federal Prosecution and the Federal Bureau of Crime.
On the next day, November 29, 2007, Axel, Florian, and Oliver, after four months in custody, were released on bail of €30000 each.
The Construct: Four Masterminds and three Henchmen (as of September 2007),
Reading the case against all of the accused and the Andrej Holm’s arrest warrant, it becomes clear that Federal Prosecutors have, since September 2006 (e.g. more than a year before the alleged arson attacks), been investigating the people involved un for possible “Membership in a terrorist organization” in accordance with §§129a StGB.
One of the four, Andrej Holm, who at this point was already being observed as a suspected member of the “militant group”, had met with one of the accused arsonists two times more than five months previously. These two encounters would prove to be the undoing of the seven accused, who now stand in the middle of labyrinth-like legal circus with far-reaching consequences: Oliver, Florian, and Axel were brought before the presiding judge in Karlsruhe not for attempted arson, rather for membership in a terrorist organization and were imprisoned in Berlin-Moabit.
Federal Prosecutors found in them—thanks to two enxouncters—the long sought henchmen of four intellectual masterminds, who for almost one year had been fruitlessly followed by the authorities. The fact that Andrej had met with one of four accused who had been caught so-called red-handed, was enough, at once, to justify the hitherto unsuccessful investigation and the arrest warrant against him.
From the arrest warrant against Andrej, it becomes clear that the investigations are based on legally thin and politically-dangerous thinking:
- two of the accused had used “phrases and slogans” that the so-called “Militant Group” used
- Occupying a scholarly position as social scientist, he is the policy arm of the militant group, “who, as a member of research institute, had at his disposal, material, which he could utilize surreptitiously, in order to the further the aims of the ‘militant group.’”
- Another suspect in the case is said to be have covered as a journalist a conference in which speakers discussed an attack in 1972. Some months prior, the militant group mentions. Federal Prosecutors see this as proof of membership on the part of the author.
- A further suspected person is said to have met conspiratorially with others suspects in earlier 129a-related proceedings. These suspects have been under investigation since 2003, and the evidence against them was only made available in September 2007. Federal prosecutors claim that, “meetings were regularly arranged without mentioning the dates, times, and what was to be discussed.”
- The accused are known to have been active in Berlin’s “extreme left.”
- A search of another suspected member turned up an address book, in which the names of the three accused are said to be written.
- Andrej had limited contact to all three and is said to have been “active in the organization of radical left resistance to the G8 conference in Heiligendamm in 2007)
The evidence of membership in the “militant group” that emerges from the arrest warrants against Florian, Oliver, and Axel, is as outrageous as it is untenable:
- The goal of attempted arson, the sequence of events, and time of the offence (at night!) exhibit parallel with attacks of the “militant group”
- One of the three arrested had met twice with Andrew five months before, who was at this point already under observation as a suspected member of the “militant group.” These two meetings strike the investigating authorities as conspiratorial, as they took place in a café, arranged through an e-mail address that both accused had access to, in which neither man had a mobile phone on his person, (e.g. the contents of the conversation could not be obtained by authorities)
In the eyes of investigators, every meeting, in which the contents are not known, is “conspiratorial.” The legitimate protection of the private sphere is criminalized and constitutes proof for Federal Prosecutors of terrorist organization.