Germany’s police toasted a “great success” after they made two arrests of suspected members of the Red Army Faction, also known as the Baader–Meinhof Gang, who had been on the run for decades.
But the ease with which a ‘most wanted’ member of a notorious ultra-left terror gang was able to live in Berlin for decades begs questions about the power of left-wing networks in the city.
Daniela Klette was arrested in Germany on Monday, as well as an unnamed male, in relation to attempted murder and a series of serious robberies between 1999 and 2016. Police had been hunting three suspected Red Army Faction (RAF) members since the 1990s, publishing alerts on some of Europe’s most wanted terror suspects and naming Ernst-Volker Wilhelm Staub, Burkhard Garweg, and Daniela Klette as Europe’s most wanted in 2020.
The RAF, also known as the Baader–Meinhof Gang, was active as a hard-left violent terror and crime association in Germany from 1970, and is thought to have been responsible for 34 murders, hundreds injured, and a host of robberies, hijackings, and arson attacks. While the RAF was initially thought to have dissolved in the 1990s, the DNA of the wanted trio turned up at the scene of an attempted raid on an armoured lorry carrying cash in 2015.
Germany’s Die Welt reported Daniela Klette, now 65 years old, had recently used an Italian passport with false name and earned money by giving private mathematics tutoring under an assumed name. Police broadcast an appeal for information on a popular true-crime programme on German television earlier this month and were inundated with tips. According to a spokesman at a press conference on the arrest today, the location of Klette came from a tip-off from the public, but that this was received before the television appeal was broadcast.
She did not resist arrest but a pistol, magazines, and bullets were found in her apartment by police, notes Sky News.
Remarkably, the fugitive is believed to have lived undetected at the same address for 20 years. A police union spokesman said the fact the arrest took place in a Berlin suburb shows that: “Berlin is still a stronghold for a well-networked nationwide and global left-wing extremist scene”.
The RAF’s first attack was the bombing of a U.S. barracks in Germany in 1972 and led to a breathtaking range of operations, including car bombs against government figures, bombings of police stations, newspaper publishers, and embassies. Military bases were frequent targets, and in 1977 several RAF members were killed in an alleged attempt to capture U.S. nuclear weapons at a German army base in Giessen.