A lieutenant who posed as a Syrian asylum seeker was found guilty of preparing terrorist attacks
A German military officer who posed as a Syrian refugee has been found guilty of charges relating to a terrorist plot to kill politicians and other public figures.
The 33-year-old German armed forces soldier, identified by authorities only as 1st Lt. Franco A., was found guilty on Friday of preparing a serious act of violent subversion, as well as crimes and fraud with weapons. He was sentenced to five and a half years in prison, almost the six years and three months that had been requested by prosecutors.
Franco A. fraudulently received state benefits after registering as an asylum seeker, and he may have intended to frame migrants for his planned attacks. His legal troubles began after he was arrested in February 2017 while trying to retrieve a handgun he had hidden in a toilet at Vienna airport.
Although Franco A. was released by Austrian police, the incident was reported to German authorities, who discovered that his fingerprint matched that of a man who had registered as a Syrian asylum seeker. He was later accused of living a double life for 15 months, plotting terrorist attacks that could be blamed on his false identity as a refugee while continuing to work full-time in the army.
The officer’s alleged targets included then-Justice Minister Heiko Maas, German MP Claudia Roth and anti-racism activist Anetta Kahane, founder of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation.
Prosecutors called the soldier a “far-right terrorist” and said investigators found he was stockpiling firearms, ammunition and explosives. His case sparked an investigation into far-right extremism within the ranks of the German military.
Franco A., who was released from prison in November 2017 pending a decision on his case, was returned to police custody last February after being found carrying a bag containing medals, badges and Nazi songbooks. A subsequent search of his apartment revealed more Nazi memorabilia, as well as machetes and a fake vaccine pass.
‘Expel all terrorism planners from Germany,’ says potential successor to Merkel, as Syrian teenager is accused of plotting to attack synagogue
Franco A.’s lawyers reportedly intend to appeal the guilty verdict. The lieutenant denied the most serious allegations against him, saying he had stockpiled weapons in case law and order broke down and had not planned any attacks. He claimed he posed as a migrant to expose flaws in Germany’s refugee system.
You can share this story on social media: