Germany arrests 24 neo-Nazis in raid

March 15, 2012, Thursday/ 18:07:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

German police arrested 24 neo-Nazi suspects on Tuesday after raiding many locations across four German states in a massive operation in the investigation of the murders of nine immigrants, including eight Turks, in racially motivated attacks from 2000-2006.

The raids were conducted on Tuesday across four German states, including North Rhine-Westphalia, Rheinland-Pfalz, Baden-Württemberg and Thüringen, resulting in the arrest of 24 suspects.

A neo-Nazi cell known as the National Socialist Underground (NSU), is suspected of involvement in the murder of nine immigrants -- eight Turkish and one Greek immigrant -- as well as one German police officer, events that shocked the country. However, investigators said there was no link between neo-Nazi groups whose facilities were raided on Tuesday and the NSU. The operations took place as part of an investigation that began after NSU’s links with the murders were discovered.

The string of killings of small businessmen, including a florist, a tailor and fast-food store owners -- referred to as “kebab murders” -- went unsolved for years after the killings took place between 2000 and 2006. Authorities suspected organized crime rather than politically motivated racist groups. Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel commemorated the neo-Nazi victims of the last decade last year with an official ceremony asking for forgiveness for the killings. In her speech Merkel promised to do everything possible to prevent a repeat of the “cold-blooded” murders.

The operation involved 300 police officers and was directed primarily against the right-wing radical organization “Aktionsbuero Mittelrhein” and its headquarters in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, in western Germany. The investigations found that neo-Nazis were using these facilities to plan violent attacks. The homes of several members of the National Democratic Party (NDP), a far right German nationalist party, were also searched, although the party is permitted by law. NDP members were among those arrested.

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