German Police Make Arrests in Decades-Old Red Army Faction Case

REUTERS/Tobias Schlie
A police forensic expert enters a building where Daniela Klette, a 65-year-old alleged member of Germany’s notorious Red Army Faction (RAF) militant group, has been arrested after decades on the run from armed robbery and attempted murder charges, in Berlin, Germany, February 27, 2024.

BERLIN (Reuters) – Daniela Klette, a member of Germany’s notorious Red Army Faction militant group, was arrested in Berlin on Monday after decades on the run from armed robbery and attempted murder charges.

Klette, 65, a member of the so-called third generation of the militant group, has long been sought alongside two other members of the group, Burkhard Garweg and Ernst-Volker Staub, for a series of robberies and at least one attempted murder.

“Late yesterday evening, police succeeded in detaining Daniela Klette in a Berlin apartment,” said Friedo de Vries, head of the criminal investigation department in Lower Saxony at a news briefing on Tuesday. “She offered no resistance.”

At the very end of the briefing, de Vries said he had just received news that a second arrest had been made in Berlin, but said the detainee’s identity had not yet been confirmed.

Police stepped up their efforts to detain the fugitives after receiving a tip from the public in November. That led to an appeal on a popular TV crime show two weeks ago, which brought in 250 further tips that police are still processing.

“Terrorism will be fought with all legal means,” said Lower Saxony’s interior minister Daniela Behrens. “Terrorists can never feel safe, not even after 30 years.”

Police seized a pistol, two magazines and cartridges in the apartment block in Berlin’s central Kreuzberg district where Klette was found alone, prosecutors said. She was later taken by helicopter to a jail in the northern city of Bremen.

Founded by Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof among others, the far-left RAF’s first generation emerged from German student protests against the Vietnam War.

The group took hostages and murdered at least 33 people, including public officials, police officers, business leaders and U.S. soldiers, during the height of its activity in the 1970s.

Klette, Garweg and Staub are suspected of carrying out a string of armed robberies between 1999 and 2016 to support their fugitive existence.

But the crimes for which they are being sought were not committed in the RAF’s name: the group wound itself up in 1998, sending an anonymous letter to Reuters’ office in Cologne in which the remaining members declared that “the urban guerrilla group in the form of the RAF is now history.”