Kommando Spezialkräfte (KSK) under investigation over far-right ties

Elite German special operations forces unit is under investigation over concerns of widespread far-right extremism

KSK Kommando Spezialkräfte operators (Photo: Bundeswehr)

Germany’s Military Counterintelligence Service (MAD) is opening its investigation into far-right radicals within German armed forces, the Bundeswehr. The report was published on Tuesday by almost all German mainstream media, particularly focusing on the most elite unit in the Bundeswehr, the Kommando Spezialkräfte (KSK). The KSK unit is based in the southwestern city of Calw.

Deputy Defense Minister Gerd Hoofe has sent a letter to a parliamentary oversight panel warning them that the rising number of radicals in this elite unit warranted “further investigation,” Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland reported.

He also said the probe into far-right extremism within the KSK had become a priority number one for the MAD.

The number of operators in the special operations forces unit believed to harbor fringe far-right sympathies is “extraordinarily high,” security sources told the newsmagazine Der Spiegel.

The Bundeswehr has had several high-profile incidents in recent years correlating to the discovery of far-right circles, but this is the first time the KSK has been under particular investigation.

Only 1,100 operators are belong to the group, which is frequently asked by NATO and the United States to assist in joint anti-terror operations in the Balkans and the Middle East.

Infamous paratroopers base

According to the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland news organization, the problem is especially severe among paratroopers and known to center around the Franz-Joseph-Strauss base in Altenstadt, Bavaria. The base became infamous in the late 1990s when military intelligence service discovered that operators there were celebrating Adolf Hitler’s birthday and singing the anthem of the Nazi party.

The MAD is probing operators who allegedly have links to Franco A., a Bundeswehr soldier who shocked Germany and Austria when he was apprehended in 2017 whilst trying to retrieve a pistol and ammunition he had hidden at the international airport in Vienna. Explosives were also found at the time.

Franco A. was charged with planning attacks on high-rank politicians and public figures that the man believed were “refugee-friendly.” He was later acquitted of terrorism charges but convicted of weapons violations.