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Mix of genres. A German BFA soldier suspected of planning a racist attack

(B2) The affair caused a lot of noise in Germany (and strangely enough in France). A German officer from the 291st Hunter Battalion (Jägerbattalion 291) – who is part of the Franco-German brigade –, based in Illkirch (near Strasbourg) (1), is suspected of having wanted to prepare an attack.

Soldier by day, refugee by night

Aged 28, Lieutenant Franco A led a double life. By day, he was a soldier. At night and during his periods of leave, he was David Benjamin (!), Christian from Syria, refugee in Germany, living in a migrant shelter in Hesse... His status as an asylum seeker was recognized in January 2016. A feat relatively extraordinary since according to the German press, he does not speak a word of Arabic. During the procedures to benefit from the right of asylum, to avoid speaking German, he spoke in French. A language learned in France, at the school of Saint Cyr Coëtquidan, where he studied (see below).

A survey conducted in Austria, Germany and France

For many months, Franco A. led his double life without attracting suspicion. It was only at the beginning of February (the 3rd) that he was spotted by the… Austrian police. He was trying to recover a loaded firearm, caliber 7,65 mm, hidden a few days earlier in the toilet pipes at Wien-Schwechat airport (Austria). Weapon for which he had no weapon port. Arrested for inspection, he was then released but placed under surveillance. The German public prosecutor's office then took over, leading an investigation into the suspicion of subversive violent action. The investigation – involving police from three countries (Germany, Austria, France) – resulted in searches of a total of 16 homes in the three countries and then two arrests. Franco A was arrested last Wednesday (April 26) in Hammelburg (Bavaria) where he was undergoing military training, at the same time as a 24-year-old student in Offenbach am Main accused of being involved.

A memoir supporting racist theses supported in Saint Cyr

The investigators also (re)discovered the project of his master's thesis, defended at Saint Cyr in 2014. A text which will be refused at the time and - according to the science center of military and social history of the Bundeswehr (ZMSBw) who reread it carefully – is not clearly not a work of academic qualification but proceeds from a radical nationalist, a call to racism, which the author attempts to support in a pseudo-scientific effort ».

A far-right network within the army?

According to our colleague Thomas Wiegold, of Augergeradeaus, the current investigation seems to reveal that it is not an individual drift. Up to five soldiers are believed to be involved and identified. Weapons (Glock G36s) were allegedly discovered during the investigation, with swastikas.

A minister under fire from critics

Minister Von Der Leyen, who has had a flawless career so far, is under fire from criticism. She wanted, in turn, to deliver the blow, calling into question the general staff of the German army. On the ZDF, she made very harsh comments. “ La Bundeswehr an attitude problem. And she obviously has leadership weakness on different levels. » – mixing cases of harassment and sexual degradation. This Thursday (May 4), the various military officials are also summoned to Berlin – according to my colleague Thomas Wiegold – to discuss the consequences of the incidents accumulated by the Bundeswehr for several months. In the meantime, the minister has decided to cancel a planned visit to the United States and make an official visit to France, to Illkirch, to the very place where the young officer worked...

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

To be continued: the report by my colleague Leonor Hubaut who follows Minister Von Der Leyen in Illkirch

(1) It is the only German unit stationed on French territory. Strangely, this fact has been very little commented on. While the individual completed part of his schooling in France, with writings that were unrepublican to say the least, and resided in France, the French authorities remain almost completely discreet, leaving the German minister to fend for herself with her nationals.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).