German fears over militant faction
BERLIN, Germany -- German authorities fear that the defunct militant far-left group Red Army Faction may be re-emerging.
The RAF, which waged a terror campaign in the 1970s and 80s and was formerly known as the notorious Baader-Meinhof gang, announced it was disbanding in 1998.
But German prosecutors say they suspect two former RAF members set up a new group in April 1999.
Arrest warrants have been issued for Daniela Klette and Ernst-Volker Staub, both in their 40s.
Prosecutors said DNA testing linked the pair to a 1999 robbery in the western town of Duisburg in which a masked gang armed with machine guns and a bazooka escaped with one million marks ($447,800) from a vehicle transporting money.
The robbery appeared to have been carried out to fund the group's activities, they added.
A spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office said on Monday they had few details on the suspected new group and did not know of any other members or planned attacks.
Despite prosecutor's concerns over a new RAF group, a number of experts have warned against exaggerating the threat.
"I would not talk about a revival of the RAF," terrorism expert and author Rolf Tophoven told German NDR4 radio.
"The question is whether today's far-left terrorists can carry out sophisticated, long-term strategic planning and attacks as their predecessors did. I don't believe so."
The RAF was known initially as the Baader-Meinhof gang after its founders Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof.
Despite the group's pre-eminence over 20 years ago -- it mainly targeted politicians and businessmen in West Germany in the 1970s -- the RAF's profile remains high.
It was back in the headlines last week when prosecutors said they had new evidence linking a left-wing urban guerrilla who died in 1993 to the killing two years earlier of prominent businessman Detlev Karsten Rohwedder.
It said genetic testing on a hair found near the crime scene in Dusseldorf indicated suspected RAF member Wolfgang Grams was involved.
Rohwedder was a steel boss who was running a government agency privatising East German industry after unification.
Then, last week, a suspected RAF member was sentenced to nine years in prison for her part in an attempted Spanish disco bombing.
Andrea Klump, 43, was found guilty of two counts of attempted murder, plotting to cause an explosion and attempted blackmail and hostage-taking in connection with an attempted attack in 1988 in Rota.
Klump was arrested in 1999 after a shoot out with police in Vienna, Austria. She was accompanied by wanted RAF suspect Horst Ludwig Meyer, who was shot dead by police after he drew a pistol on an officer who asked to see his identification.
Earlier this year, Germany debated the radical left's role in the 1970s after Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer testified as a character witness at the murder trial of an former comrade turned urban guerrilla.
Although Fischer has never hidden his militant youth, he denied any involvement in guerrilla groups.
He also denied that he had lived with members of the RAF, but later acknowledged that RAF member Margrit Schiller may have stayed briefly in the same building in Frankfurt in the 1970s and he might have met her.
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