Special forces in Germany have arrested more than two dozen people whom officials suspect of supporting a domestic terrorist organization that planned to overthrow the government, a federal prosecutor said on Wednesday.
An estimated 50 people were suspected to have been part of the group called Reich Citizens movement, who were plotting to overthrow the government and replace it with one of their own, The New York Times is reporting.
“The accused are united by a deep rejection of state institutions and the free democratic basic order of the Federal Republic of Germany, which over time has led to their decision to participate in their violent elimination and to engage in concrete preparatory actions for this purpose,” a statement from prosecutors read.
More than 3,000 law enforcement officers carried out early-morning raids across the country, arresting people who belonged to the group that is believed to have been formed within the past year.
According to prosecutors, the organization was operating on the conviction that “Germany is currently ruled by members of a so-called deep state,” and that the government needed to be overthrown.
The group became known to investigators when they uncovered a kidnap plot last April involving a gang who called themselves United Patriots, the BBC reported.
The group had intended to carry out an armed attack on the German Parliament building, prosecutors said. Members had tried to recruit personnel from the German security services to help in the attack.
A minor aristocrat described as Prince Heinrich XIII, 71, is alleged to have been part of the plan to install a new government, according to the BBC.
Justice Minister Marco Buschmann described the raids as an “anti-terrorism operation,” adding that the suspects may have planned an armed attack on institutions of the state, according to The Associated Press.
Germany’s top security official said the group was “driven by violent coup fantasies and conspiracy ideologies.”
Among those arrested was a man who had tried to make contact with representatives of the Russian government over the plans, according to the statement,
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