Fugitive far-left militant wanted for decades arrested in Berlin

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Fugitive far-left militant wanted for decades arrested in Berlin
undated handouts from the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) show mugshots (top) and age simulations (bottom) of Burkhard Garweg (l-r), Ernst-Volker Wilhelm Staub and Daniela Klette from the notorious Red Army Faction (RAF). Photo: picture alliance / dpa | BKA

A German activist of the notorious far-left Red Army Faction (RAF) wanted for more than 30 years for attempted murder and other crimes has been arrested in Berlin, prosecutors said on Tuesday.


Daniela Klette, 65, was part of a notorious fugitive trio from the RAF, which carried out bombings, kidnappings and killings in Germany in the 1970s and 1980s.

Klette was arrested on Monday, a spokesman for prosecutors in Verden said, without giving further details.

Along with fellow RAF members Ernst-Volker Staub and Burhard Garweg, Klette is being investigated by the prosecutors in Verden for attempted murder and various serious robberies between 1999 and 2016.

The trio are believed to have been financing their lives on the run through robberies on money transporters and supermarket cash heists.

They are suspected of being behind the failed robbery of a money transporter in 2016 near the northern city of Bremen, among other offences.

In that incident, masked attackers armed with AK-47 automatic rifles and grenade-launcher opened fire but fled without cash when security guards locked themselves inside the armoured vehicle, which was carrying about one million euros ($1.1 million).

Plane hijacking

The anti-capitalist RAF, also known as the Baader-Meinhof gang, emerged out of the radicalised fringe of the 1960s student protest movement.

READ ALSO: What Germany's Red Army Faction can tell the world about terror

The group, which had links to Middle Eastern militant organisations, declared itself disbanded in 1998.

At the height of its notoriety in 1977, the group kidnapped one of Germany's top industrialists after opening fire with a machine-gun on his Mercedes.

After ambushing Hanns-Martin Schleyer's convoy, they held him hostage for six weeks as the West German state negotiated for his release.


On October 13th, four militants of the RAF-allied Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine hijacked Mallorca-Frankfurt flight LH 181, demanding the release of 11 RAF members.

During a five-day odyssey which included seven refuelling stops in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the cell's leader, who called himself Captain Martyr Mahmud, shot dead the pilot, Juergen Schumann

German anti-terror commandos eventually stormed the Lufthansa jet in Somalia, shot its Palestinian hijackers and freed 90 hostages.

Schleyer, a former SS officer who became the head of Germany's employers' association, was then found dead in the boot of a car in eastern France.

'Third generation'

Though the so-called German Autumn of 1977 marked the beginning of a long period of decline for the RAF, the group continued to operate for another two decades.

Staub, Garweg and Klette, alleged members of the RAF's so-called "third generation" active during the 1980s and 1990s, are the chief suspects in a 1993 explosives attack against a prison under construction in Germany's Hesse state.

Bombed RAF prison Hesse

An aerial photograph from March 28th, 1993 shows parts of the devastated prison building in Weiterstadt near Darmstadt. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | DB Jürgen Mahnke

In the attack, five RAF members climbed the prison walls, tied up and abducted the guards in a van, then returned to set off explosions that caused about €600,000 worth of property damage, according to German prosecutors.

Klette is also a suspect in two previous RAF operations.

Ten days ago, alarm was raised in Wuppertal when a man on a regional train was mistaken for Staub.

However, it turned out to be a case of mistaken identity, and he and Garweg remain on the run.

Although far-right extremism has been a bigger focus for Germany in recent years, far-left attacks have also continued to keep the authorities busy.


A court in Dresden in May sentenced a left-wing extremist woman to more than five years in jail for attacking neo-Nazis, with Germany's interior minister warning against "vigilante justice"

The defendant, identified only as Lina E., and three other suspects were convicted of participating in a "criminal organisation" that carried out several assaults against right-wing extremists between 2018 and 2020.


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