Berlin, 23 January 2020 (dpa/MIA) – Germany has banned the right-wing extremist group Combat 18, thought to be the armed wing of a European neo-Nazi network.
The Interior Ministry announced the ban on Thursday after raids on premises in six states across Germany, focusing particularly on the central state of Thuringia and North Rhine Westphalia in the west.
Ministry spokesman Steve Alter said a man identified as Stanley R, thought to be the group’s ringleader and a central figure in the right-wing extremist scene, was met by police at his place of work in Thuringia and taken to his flat, which was searched.
The German branch of Combat 18 “is a neo-Nazi, racist and xenophobic association whose purpose is similar to that of national socialism,” a statement from the Interior Ministry said.
German security authorities believe the group has around 20 members across the country. It is considered the armed wing of Blood and Honour, a neo-Nazi network from Britain that has spread to several countries in Europe.
The number 18 represents the first and eighth letters of the alphabet, which are the initials of Adolf Hitler.
There have long been calls to ban Combat 18 in Germany.
“Finally, the threat of Combat 18 has been taken into account and years of trivialization have ended,” said Irene Mihalic, a member of the German parliament for the Greens.