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German Soldier Arrested For Plotting Refugee Attack

A 28-year-old lieutenant in the German army and his 22-year-old co-conspirator were arrested April 26, after authorities confirmed that the pair had planned a terror attack, possibly aimed at refugees and migrants.

According to Deutsche Welle, the lieutenant, unnamed due to strict privacy laws, was "motivated by a xenophobic background." He was arrested during training at the Bundeswehr base.

His accomplice is also believed to have a far-right extremist background. His home was searched, and prohibited weapons and explosives were found. 

The lieutenant has been known to authorities for some time already, and the BBC reports that he had been arrested in February in Vienna. Prosecutors claim the soldier hid a loaded weapon in a bathroom at the airport in Vienna in January and had intended to use it for a "serious criminal offense."

The weapon was illegal and not from the German military; however, the soldier was released due to insufficient evidence.

But the lieutenant remained on various countries' watch lists when it was discovered he had used an alias to falsely register as a Syrian refugee in Germany in 2015, and apply for asylum and aid in 2016.

Although the soldier spoke French but no Arabic, due to mishandling, the soldier was granted accommodation and money.

In connection with the student, the lieutenant and the phony aliases, police also searched 16 locations across Germany, France and Austria which yielded evidence. However, investigators are still uncertain about the exact motives of the pair. 

Police have not ruled out that the lieutenant and student had intended to carry out an attack and blame it on refugees.

The arrests come during heightened tensions in Germany as the country continues to grapple with a global refugee crisis that has sent hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people to the country. Much of Germany, and the current chancellor, Angela Merkel, have taken a pro-immigration stance, opening the country to the migrants and aid-seekers. 

However, the policy has sparked an intense far-right backlash in the country, and there's been a drastic increase in anti-refugee and hate-related crimes across Germany. The German Military Counterintelligence Service is currently investigating 275 cases of right-wing extremism within the German military alone, in addition to dozens of cases of left-wing and Islamic extremism.

Germany currently stands at a crossroads in terms of how to handle the refugee crisis, and their response in the coming months will help shape the conversations and policies going forward.

Sources: Deutsche Welle, BBC / Photo credit: Pixabay

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