Taz research on “hannibal” network: direct line to the office for the protection of the constitution

The association Uniter e.V. trains civilians in military tactics. An employee of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution co-founded it.

Here works a man who sat on the founding board of Uniter e.V. Photo: dpa

The Office for the Protection of the Constitution has a direct link to the association Uniter e.V., which has come under the spotlight in connection with a far-right network with members from security agencies: According to research by the taz, an employee of the Baden-Wurttemberg State Office for the Protection of the Constitution (LfV) co-founded the association and even sat on the board. This has been proven by several independent sources. At the beginning of 2017, the man resigned from the association’s board, according to internal association documents obtained by taz. However, he is still entered in the association’s register.

The best-known head of Uniter and official vice chairman of the association, which was founded in Stuttgart in May 2016, is Andre S., alias "Hannibal". The then soldier of the Kommando Spezialkrafte (KSK) of the German Armed Forces administered a large number of chat groups in which so-called preppers prepared for "Day X". Several men were organized in these groups, against whom the Federal Prosecutor General is investigating for "preparation of a serious act of violence endangering the state". Among other things, they allegedly kept enemy lists and discussed the killing of political opponents in connection with "Day X".

Andre S. was an informant for the Bundeswehr intelligence service MAD until he left the KSK a year ago. According to information from the Federal Ministry of Defense, he is currently banned from wearing a uniform. He is currently under investigation by the Stuttgart public prosecutor’s office for an alleged violation of the Weapons and Explosives Act.

Whistleblower in the club

One of the chats included the German Army soldier Franco A., whom the Federal Prosecutor General has indicted on terror charges. A Uniter badge was found on Franco A.’s person. He also participated in several meetings that participants remembered as Uniter meetings. At the beginning of 2016, he sat with two dozen others in a shooting club in Albstadt, Baden-Wurttemberg, where they discussed preparations for a "Day X," and another time in a small group at Andre S.’s home, alias "Hannibal."

According to taz information, the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution also has at least one whistleblower who informs the Office for the Protection of the Constitution about events of the association. The authority does not want to say anything about this when asked by the taz. LfV spokesman Georg Spielberg merely stated that the association Uniter e.V. was not an object of observation by the Baden-Wurttemberg Office for the Protection of the Constitution "because there are no sufficient indications that it is an effort against the free democratic basic order".

Also about the LfV employee, who co-founded the association Uniter, the authority does not want to comment publicly for reasons of personality protection. For the time being, it remains unclear how long the employee has been working for the LfV and when the LfV became aware of his association’s activities. It is also unclear whether there is an official connection to the association’s activities.

In December, the taz had uncovered questionable activities of Uniter. Members of a so-called "defense" unit of the association took part in secret paramilitary training under Andre S.’s guidance. The operator of the training grounds in Mosbach, Baden-Wurttemberg, had independently noticed the club as militaristic. As a result, the club was banned from using the premises. The operator had also informed the state Ministry of the Interior about this.

Preparing for the crisis

In order to check whether criminal investigations are being launched, the Federal Prosecutor General has opened an observation case on Uniter e.V.. The investigators are looking at the chat groups and the association’s activities separately. In fact, however, as taz research has shown, there is a great deal of overlap in terms of personnel and structure. At least a dozen of the former chat members are or were also active in Uniter e.V., including many in leading positions. They are active or former soldiers, many from the KSK, and current or former police officers.

The association, which was first founded in Halle (Saxony-Anhalt) back in 2012, today presents itself to the outside world as a charitable and expert NGO and claims that there is "no connection of the association Uniter to the prepper scene. In a Uniter newsletter from the fall of 2015, which is available to the taz, this sounded quite different.

It spoke of "difficult times" that were coming for Europe, "whether internal unrest or crises at the borders. One must prepare for these with "safe housing complexes," "settlements with a self-sufficient character" or "reception camps abroad. The letter urges association members to prepare for crisis scenarios, in terms of food and communication, but also beyond. The question, he said, is "where to go, what to do after public order is no longer there?"

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