The Insider Threat: Far-Right Extremism in the German Military and Police

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A series of extreme far-right cases among members of Germany’s military and police highlight the threat of the enemy within: radicalized extremists within security services, with access to weapons, training, and confidential information. Such individuals, and especially those who are part of groups and networks, pose a new challenge to Germany’s intelligence community, which is still struggling to assess the true dimension of the threat.

From police chat groups where racist, nationalist, and anti-Semitic content is being shared to a Nazi sympathizer within the special forces allegedly storing weapons and explosives to a police employee allegedly looking to help far-right terrorists plunge the country into civil war, it is clear the threat is significant. The specter of armed underground cells being trained by former or current members of the security services has been a wake-up call for authorities.

New measures have already been implemented within Germany’s domestic and military intelligence agencies to more effectively root out enemies of the state wearing uniforms. Nevertheless, the threat will most likely persist in the coming years. The detection and monitoring of potential terrorists among fellow servicemen and police officers is a difficult task for security services, and rooting out bad actors can be even harder—especially in times when new recruits are desperately needed. With the United States and other countries also grappling with this problem set, it is vital to share lessons learned and best practices at the international level.

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Ein Service des deutschen Präventionstages.