German officer who posed as Syrian refugee jailed in terror trial

A former German soldier has been jailed for plotting far-right attacks on politicians while posing as a Syrian refugee.

Prosecutors believe he was trying to pin the attacks on immigrants in a bid to destabilise the state.

The officer – named only as Lt Franco A – was sentenced to five years and six months in prison.

He was arrested in 2017 while trying to retrieve a handgun found by a cleaner in a toilet at Vienna airport.

After his arrest it transpired that he was travelling under a false identity, and had registered himself as a Syrian refugee in Germany, even though he spoke no Arabic.

Prosecutors said that Franco harboured “a nationalist, racist and anti-Semitic ideology,” and had illegally acquired semi-automatic assault rifles, practiced shooting them, made lists of potential targets, and researched where those targets might be.

He had listed cabinet ministers, MPs and a prominent Jewish human rights activist among his potential targets, prosecutors said.

During the investigation far-right groups were uncovered in the German police and army.

This led to reforms within the army and an increased focus on right-wing extremism in German security forces.

During the trial, the soldier insisted he was not an extremist and had not plotted attacks.

Under German privacy rules, defendants’ surnames are not made public.

He managed to persuade immigration authorities in 2015 that he was a fruit seller from Damascus, despite speaking no Arabic.

His double life was exposed when authorities discovered the fingerprints of the soldier based in Strasbourg matched those he had used to register as a Syrian Christian asylum seeker, living three hours’ drive north near Frankfurt.

Source:, BBC


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