German Neo-Nazi Charged With Sending 116 Death Threats Using Name of Terror Group

The suspect also faces charges for attacking police, possessing child porn and weapons offences.
​German police officer.
German police officer. Photo: huettenhoelscher via Getty Images

An alleged right-wing extremist has been charged over a nearly three-year campaign in which more than 100 death threats were sent to German politicians, lawyers and journalists, under a pseudonym referencing the country’s most notorious neo-Nazi terror group.

The unemployed 53-year-old suspect, named only as Alexander Horst M. in line with German privacy laws, has been charged with incitement, issuing threats and insults, and distributing symbols of unconstitutional organisations, the public prosecutor's office in Frankfurt am Main said on Thursday. The suspect, who has been in custody since his arrest in Berlin in May, also faces charges for attacking police, possessing child porn and weapons offences.

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The suspect, who denies the charges, is alleged to have been behind a long-running hate campaign in which 116 threats were sent to 32 people and 60 institutions between August 2018 and March this year.

The threats, sent by email, text and fax, were signed off “NSU 2.0,” a reference to the National Socialist Underground (NSU) – the neo-Nazi terrorist group that carried out 10 murders between 2000 and 2007. The threats regularly used the phrase “Heil Hitler,” while the sender referred to himself as an "SS-Obersturmbannführer,” a military rank in the Nazi SS.

The first threats were sent in August 2018 to Seda Başay-Yıldız, a German lawyer of Turkish descent, who represented one of the victims of the NSU; the message threatened to kill both Başay-Yıldız and her two-year-old daughter. Scores more threats followed, targeting left-wing politicians, journalists and writers, and a comedian.

“Above all he targeted women who are either politically active, have a migrational background or both,” said Nicholas Potter, a researcher at German anti-racism group the Amadeu Antonio Foundation. Among those targeted was the chair of his organisation Anetta Kahane, an anti-racist activist and journalist of Jewish descent.

The threats frequently included references to the victim’s personal data, such as their home addresses. The public prosecutor suspects he obtained the information by posing as a public official.

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“In one threat sent by fax to...Başay-Yıldız,” said Potter “...he included her private address which is protected and not publicly listed, as well as the name of her daughter, which he said we would ‘slaughter,’”. Başay-Yıldız received about a dozen threats in total. 

Amid a rising tide of right-wing extremism in Germany in recent years, which has resulted in a far-right political assassination, a mass shooting and an attempted massacre, the “NSU 2.0,” case has just one of a number of high-profile hate campaigns by anonymous right-wing extremists. 

In another case, more than 200 threatening emails were sent, mostly to left-wing politicians, by someone identifying themselves as the “Staatsstreichorchester” – a play on the German words for “coup” and “string orchestra.” One of those threats, viewed by VICE News in 2019, threatened the murder of two pro-immigration mayors as part of a wave of “impending purges.”

“It is our goal, as our name implies, to overthrow the state and to cleanse it of scum like you, the Jewish filth, and all the other foreign parasites,” read the threat.