West German arrests cut into terrorist ranks but threat persists
Despite major coups in arresting suspected terrorists of both left and right in recent months, West Germany still faces a persistent terrorist threat. This picture emerges from the annual report Feb. 22 of the Verfassungsschutz (office for the protection of the Constitution), the equivalent of the FBI in the United States.
According to the report, there were more than 1,400 incidents of bombing, arson, or other violence by leftist extremists in 1982, 64 by rightist extremists. Interior Minister Friedrich Zimmermann noted left and right radicals closed the circle in 1982 in their common targeting of Jews and Americans in West Germany.
Officials revived allegations of rightist involvement in last fall's bombings of American soldiers' cars in West Germany as five neo-Nazis - three in West Germany and two in Britain - were arrested this month. Dr. Zimmermann told journalists an investigation was being conducted to see if any of the five might have participated in last year's bombing of a Jewish restaurant in France.
The latest arrest of rightists follows last November's capture of three top leftist terrorist suspects after several years of search, and the unearthing of 13 major Red Army Faction (Baader-Meinhof) depots of weapons and forged documents.
Dr. Zimmermann reported that the membership of left extremist organizations was slightly lower in 1982 than the previous year, at 60,000. The equivalent number on the right he listed as slightly lower as well, at 19,000.
He noted votes for left extremist parties are staying well below 1 percent. But he said as many as one-third of elected representatives in student parliaments are left extremists. He also said the membership in left extremist ''influenced'' organizations rose 5 percent to about 56,000. Social Democrats immediately charged Zimmermann with playing conservative politics by including organizations not deemed extremist by the previous left-liberal government.
As for the legal parties classified as extreme, the German Communist Party was said to have increased slightly, with 106,000 members in its filial organizations. Zimmermann described the Communist Party in West Germany as being guided and financed to a considerable extent by the East German Socialist Unity (communist) Party. He said the party's major aim was to block NATO deployments of new missiles by campaigning actively within the peace movement.
On the right, the National Democratic Party of Germany dropped to 6,000 members.