German investigators sent shockwaves across the country, and the world, when they unmasked a suspected far-right terror network on Wednesday that includes a minor aristocrat, special forces soldiers, and a former lawmaker, who had drawn up plans to violently overthrow the German government.
For anyone who has paid any attention to the rising far-right extremist problem in Germany in recent years, it came as no surprise when the prosecutors revealed that the members of the network they uncovered subscribed to the radical Reichsbürger or “Citizens of the Reich” movement, a decades-old sovereign citizen group that believes the modern German state is illegitimate.
It may have come as a surprise, however, when prosecutors stated that the group was inspired by “QAnon ideology.”
Despite QAnon’s U.S.-centric narrative focusing on former President Donald Trump, the conspiracy movement has now spread across the globe. German-speaking communities have become the largest non-American audience for QAnon, finding a ready audience in the Reichsbürger movement, which falsely believes that Germany is still an occupied country because, they claim, there was never a formalized peace treaty with Allied forces after World War 2 (there was).
One reason QAnon was adopted so widely in Germany is that there is a strong overlap between QAnon’s conspiracy narratives and those shared by the Reichsbürger movement, including the belief that the pandemic was created by the “deep state” as part of a long-running conspiracy to control the population.
Now, experts believe that the merging of the Reichsbürger movement and QAnon could lead to a dramatic increase in the potential for violent extremism committed by conspiracy adherents.
“[This case] could be the most significant QAnon terror group and plot worldwide,” Daniel Koehler, director of the German Institute in Radicalisation and De-Radicalisation Studies, told VICE World News on Wednesday about the foiled plan to overthrow the German government.