Nov. 13 (Bloomberg) -- German authorities arrested a man they say has ties to an underground neo-Nazi cell, part of a widening investigation seeking to tie a string of murders going back over a decade to an anti-immigration group.
The suspect, identified as 37-year-old Holger G., was arrested today near Hanover, Germany, and is accused of involvement with a group calling itself the “National Socialist Underground,” Federal prosecutors said in a statement.
German investigators believe that the cell is responsible for at least 10 murders carried out across the country from 2000 to 2006, in which eight people of Turkish origin as well as a Greek man were killed, they said. The NSU is also tied to an attack on two police officers in the western city of Heilbronn in 2007 that left a policewoman dead.
“We appear to be dealing with a new form of right-wing terrorism,” German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said today, according to Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
Federal authorities announced two days ago that they were taking over the investigation after evidence emerged connecting the three-person cell to the murders. Investigators are looking for broader connections between the group and elements of nationalist extremists in Germany.
Police near the eastern German city of Eisenach found the bodies of two of the suspects, identified as Uwe B. and Uwe M., on Nov. 4 along with the firearms of the two Heilbronn police officers, prosecutors said in a statement two days ago.
The dead men’s apartment in Zwickau, a town in the eastern state of Saxony, was the site of an explosion the same day. There, police found a pistol identified as the murder weapon used against the Turkish and Greek victims as well as evidence of a “right-wing motive” for the murders, authorities said.
The third suspected member, identified as Beate Z., has been charged with participation in murder and attempted murder as part of a “terrorist group,” according to prosecutors.
The two men whose bodies were found left behind four DVDs found in the rubble of their Zwickau apartment on which they proclaim their anti-immigrant motives and threaten further attacks, according to Der Spiegel magazine.
Holger G. is accused of being in contact with the group from the end of the 1990s, when the NSU went underground, as well as providing identification documents and helping rent mobile homes, prosecutors said.
The Interior Ministry counted about 5,600 people in neo- Nazi groups last year, an increase from about 5,000 in 2009. On Sept. 21, the government banned the country’s largest active neo-Nazi group, an organization that sought to spread its message through support to imprisoned extremists.
--Editors: John Buckley, Raj Rajendran
To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Donahue in Berlin at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at email@example.com