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    Bundeswehr Reveals 2,500 Cases of Far-Right Extremism Since 2011

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    Over 2,500 cases of right-wing extremism were reported to Germany's military authorities since compulsory military service ended six years ago, the Rheinische Post reports.

    German military authorities are aware of 2,514 cases of right-wing extremism in the armed forces since the end of military service, according to data from the Military Counterintelligence Service [MAD] published by the Rheinische Post newspaper on Thursday.

    The figures show a fall in the number of cases from 585 in 2010 to 227 in 2016. So far this year, as the German army has been hit by several scandals involving far-right extremism, 104 new cases were recorded. However, corroborating evidence was found in only 7.2 percent of cases.

    The German government abolished military service in 2011, citing a lack of military and political justification for it. However, compulsory military or alternative civilian service still remains a part of the German constitution and could be reintroduced relatively easily.

    On Wednesday, Patrick Sensburg, a politician from Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union party (CDU)in the Bundestag, said that Germany should bring back compulsory military service in order to tackle right-wing extremism in the German army.

    He said that the abolition of compulsory military service for young men in 2011 was a mistake, since it meant that the army is no longer a cross-section of German society.

    "The citizen in uniform would be a reliable early warning system for recognizing extremism from left and right," he told the Funke Media Group on Wednesday.

    "Our civilian population is also the immune system against the enemies of democracy," he added.

    In the latest scandal to hit the German Bundeswehr, last month a German army lieutenant named Franco A. was arrested on suspicion of terrorism after allegedly planning neo-Nazi terror attacks and posing as a Syrian asylum seeker in Bavaria. Although some reports claim he was preparing a "false flag" terror attack, he has not revealed what his motives were. 

    According to Der Spiegel, Franco A. was able to pass an interview and claim asylum status despite speaking only broken Arabic. The Moroccan interpreter switched to French for the interview, which Franco evidently spoke well, claiming to be a member of the Christian French minority in the village of Tel al-Hassel.

    He falsely claimed to be called "David Benjamin," to have faced persecution by Daesh for having a Jewish-sounding name, and to have sustained shrapnel injuries; none of the claims were checked.

    According to RND News, the Defense Ministry believes that Franco A. was a member of a network of five suspected right-wing extremists operating in the German army.

    The scandal comes after several reports of misconduct in the German Bundeswehr. In January, Der Spiegel reported on the violent sexual abuse of recruits at barracks in Pfullendorf.

    In March, it emerged that a private in the German Gebirgsjaeger (mountain troops) had been sexually abused at barracks in Bad Reichenhall. Local prosecutors allege that bullying, sexual misconduct and animal cruelty took place there.

    Last week it was reported that army instructors at a barracks in Thuringian Sondershausen verbally abused new recruits, calling them "genetic waste," and forced them to endure long runs that sometimes caused physical collapse.

    In the aftermath of that report, Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen fired the army's chief instructor, General-major Walter Spindler, in the belief that Spindler's administration did not investigate the claims thoroughly enough.

    In addition, the Defense Ministry announced last month it is looking into 275 reported cases of far-right extremism within the country’s military ranks, including soldiers saying “Heil Hitler,” performing Nazi salutes and calling for violence against migrants.


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