Names of two prominent Bundestag members on list found by police investigating activities of National Socialist Underground
Police investigating a German neo-Nazi terrorist group have discovered a hitlist of 88 possible targets, including two prominent members of the Bundestag and representatives of Turkish and Islamic groups.
Investigators have been trying to establish whether the list included people the group was actively plotting to kill, or was simply a list of high-profile political opponents.
Two of those apparently targeted are senior politicians from Munich: the Green MP Jerzy Montag and the Christian Social Union MP Hans-Peter Uhl. Both said they were deeply shocked by the revelation.
According to Spiegel Online, investigators discovered the list during inquiries into the activities of the so-called National Socialist Underground (NSU), which is suspected in a string of terror attacks in Cologne and Düsseldorf from 2000-2004. The number 88 is significant, corresponding in the alphabet to HH, or Heil Hitler.
The neo-Nazi cell had gathered the names and addresses in 2005, German police said.
Montag said he was alarmed at the discovery. "This is a terrible feeling for me. The fact that the most significant members of the group have been eliminated doesn't resolve this. If they can come up with something like this, so can others."
Montag told Spiegel Online he was convinced there were other neo-Nazi terror cells in Germany capable of doing something similar. Uhl added: "When I heard I was on the list I was deeply upset."
German authorities have been widely criticised for their failure to stop the group, which killed 10 people, robbed 14 banks and planted two nail bombs over 13 years.
On Tuesday, the Hessen branch of the domestic intelligence service, the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, or BfV, admitted one of its agents had been present in April 2006 when two members of the NSU shot dead a 21-year-old Turk in an internet cafe.
It has now emerged the agent, who was transferred to less sensitive work following an investigation, openly held rightwing views and was known in the village where he grew up as "Little Adolf".
When police raided his flat following the murder, they found a cache of guns, for which he had a legitimate licence, and extracts from Mein Kampf, according to Der Spiegel. There were unconfirmed reports the man was present at three or more other neo-Nazi murder scenes.
Hajo Funke, an expert in rightwing extremism, told ARD television: "It can't be ruled out that this BfV employee took part in the murder, and that is a scandal." He called the case "a Watergate-scale" crisis for German secret intelligence.
The interior minister, Hans-Peter Friedrich, has called for a national register listing all neo-Nazis. The database should hold "information about potentially violent rightwing extremists and rightwing politically motivated acts of violence", he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. It should be accessible to all 16 regional branches of the domestic intelligence service, as well as the national umbrella organisation, plus police authorities, he said.
Following the discovery of the terror cell's base in the quiet town of Zwickau, near the Czech border, the German government is under pressure to explain how the group managed to murder undetected for so long. The two men and one woman believed to be founder members of the NSU were known to police in their home town of Jena, east Germany, after a bomb-making factory was discovered in the garage rented by the woman, Beate Zschäpe, in 1998.
The local branch of the Thuringian secret service allegedly had 24 lever-arch files on the trio and yet only uncovered the cell years after they carried out at least 10 murders – and after the men were found dead, apparently following a joint suicide pact, and Zschäpe turned herself in to police.
Zschäpe has remained silent since turning herself in last week, but some local media reports suggested she had told police she was ready to be interviewed about her involvement.
On Tuesday evening, Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) voted at its party conference in Leipzig for a ban on the NPD (German Democratic party), a legal far-right group which has seats in a number of local parliaments in the former East Germany. The opposition Social Democrats have also called for the NPD to be outlawed.
Such calls have been criticised by politicians in Merkel's own coalition. Uhl, an expert in interior security, said: "There is no better sign of democracy than for the electorate to vote against the NPD at elections. That's the most noble way."
Uhl said it would be better for Germany's strict data protection laws to be changed to allow detectives to analyse communications. "The whole country is wondering how big the neo-Nazi quagmire is in Germany. Without using internet and telephone data collected from the Zwickau cell that is going to be difficult to establish," he told the Neue Osnabrücke Zeitung.
Earlier this week Merkel described the case as a "disgrace" for Germany.