German Officer Who Posed as Syrian Refugee Goes on Trial Over Alleged Terrorism Plot

A German military officer goes on trial for allegedly plotting far-right terrorism attacks on politicians while posing as a Syrian refugee.

Federal prosecutors accused First Lieutenant Franco Albrecht of attempting to stage attacks on politicians and have them blamed on his fake Syrian identity to incite anti-Muslim sentiment.

Accusing him of “a serious act of violence that endangers the security of the state,” prosecutors said Franco had recordings where he praised Hitler and that he was motivated by a “hardened far-right extremist mindset,” 

Prosecutors alleged that Franco’s targets included Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, German Parliament Vice President Claudia Roth, and Jewish activist Anetta Kahane.

Franco denied the allegations and said that he took the Syrian identity David Benjamin to expose the flaws in the German asylum system.

“I wanted to get to the bottom of it personally, and check just how far the concept of asylum had been abused by the German authorities to the detriment of security,” Franco told French newspaper Le Figaro.

Prosecutors also accused Franco of illegal possession of weapons and explosives, citing a hoard of ammunition and explosives in his parents’ basement, which was later found at a friend’s house.

Franco said the stockpile of weapons were for self-defense and “to protect [his] family in an emergency.”

If convicted, Franco faces up to ten years in prison.

Authorities arrested Franco in February 2017 when he tried to retrieve a handgun in a bathroom at the Vienna airport, according to the indictment and police reports.

Authorities then discovered Franco’s fake Syrian identity when his fingerprints matched those he had used to register as a Syrian asylum seeker.

Franco was a soldier stationed in the Franco-German base of Illkirch in eastern France.


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