ExtremismFrankfurt Police Unit to Be Disbanded over Far-Right Chats

Published 10 June 2021

The city of Frankfurt am Main and the leaders of the state of Hesse have announced they were disbanding the Frankfurt police’s Special Task Force (SEK) following the discovery of the participation of SEK officers in far-right extremist chat rooms. German police and military forces have been plagued by far-right scandals in recent years. Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer was forced to disband the 2nd company of the Bundeswehr’s Special Forces Command (KSK) in November last year after it became clear soldiers in the unit had covered far-right extremist activities carried out by KSK soldiers and officers.

The city of Frankfurt am Main and the leaders of the state of Hesse have announced they were disbanding the Frankfurt police’s Special Task Force (Spezialeinsatzkommando, or SEK) following the discovery of far-right extremist messages in group chats, a Hesse state official said on Thursday.

Hesse’s Interior Minister Peter Beuth said that “unacceptable misconduct” by members of the SEK made the dissolution of the unit “unavoidable.”

Beuth added that an expert task force will now work on reorganizing and restructuring of the SEK. “We are launching a fundamental reboot of the SEK today,” he said.”We need specialized civil servants, but specialization must not lead to isolation,” emphasized Beuth. The task force is headed by Stefan Müller, the police chief of the West Hesse police headquarters and former head of a special units directorate.

He stressed that the restructured SEK will have a completely new leadership, and that a new culture will be promoted among the middle and lower levels of the police force.

Of course, our special forces will also be vital in the future, but the parameters will be different,” the interior minister said.

Why Is the Special Task Force Being Dissolved?
The move followed Wednesday announcements by the Frankfurt Public Prosecutor’s Office, and the Hesse State Criminal Police Office, in which they said there were ongoing investigations of twenty active and former SEK officers suspected of participating in far-right, extremist chat groups.

Seventeen Hesse officers were suspected of disseminating hatful and inciting texts, accompanied symbols of former Nazi organizations in 2016 and 2017.

The prosecutors noted that the display of Nazi symbols is forbidden by German law, except in an educational setting.

With one exception, the officers, ranging in age from 29 to 54, had been on active duty when they participated in the chat groups. They were assigned to office work while the investigation is on going, and one of them had been suspended, Frankfurt police chief Gerhard Bereswill said on Wednesday.

The revelations “make the suspicion of right-wing extremist tendencies of some members of the Frankfurt SEK clear,” Beuth said on Thursday.

Police Struggle to Combat Internal Extremism
German police and military forces have been plagued by far-right scandals in recent years. Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer was forced to disband the 2nd company of the Bundeswehr’s Special Forces Command (KSK) in November last year after it became clear soldiers in the unit had covered right-wing extremist activities carried out by certain members.

Hesse state, where the financial hub of Frankfurt is located, has been a particular hotspot of right-wing activity among German authorities.

Threatening emails sent to several people, including a prominent lawyer with a migrant background, were traced back to a police computer in Frankfurt. The messages were signed NSU 2.0 — a reference to the neo-Nazi trio National Socialist Underground (NSU) who committed 10 murders between 2000 and 2007.

In July 2020 in Hesse state, left-wing politician Janine Wissler also received threatening emails after her personal details were accessed via police computers.  

This article is published courtesy of Deutsche Welle (DW).

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