German Soldier Arrested for Extreme-Right Terrorist Ambitions Had Artist Collective on His Hit List

The man known as Franco A. faked status as a war refugee before his arrest last week.

Philipp Ruch of the German artists' group "Center for Political Beauty" ("Zentrum für politische Schönheit") speaks to the media following the symbolic reburial of, according to Ruch, the body of a female Syrian refugee who drowned in the Mediterranean in her attempt to reach Europe at Berlin-Gatow cemetery on June 16, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

A member of the German Bundeswehr with far-right extremist leanings was arrested last week for suspicions of planning attacks on civilians and blaming them on refugees. It has now emerged that he had a hit list that included not only politicians, but also the art collective Zentrum für politische Schönheit (Center for Political Beauty) (ZPS).

“That’s what happens when you work like us,” Stefan Pelzer, a member of the collective, known for its controversial, pro-refugee projects—like symbolically burying the bodies of deceased migrants in Berlin to give them “dignified burials”—told the Tagesspeigel.

The Berlin State Office of Criminal Investigation informed the ZPS of their inclusion on the list this past Friday. It also included Anne Helm, a Berlin city representative for Die Linke (The Left) party who had openly criticized the far-right.

Identified to the public as Franco A., the 28-year-old lieutenant was arrested last Wednesday, April 26, after his fingerprints were matched to a loaded pistol that had been planted in a bathroom at a Vienna airport, according to Deutsche Welle.

Stationed with a French-German brigade in Alsace, Franco A. had served in the Bundeswehr for eight years, and reportedly passed two security checks by Germany’s Military Counterintelligence Service.

However, the man had come under fire in 2014 for having written a thesis paper on “political change and subversion strategy,” which a professor deemed to have contained far-right thinking.

In late 2016, Franco A. somehow attained refugee status, convincing the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) in Nuremberg that he was a French-speaking fruit seller from Damascus. He was granted partial asylum status in Germany as a war refugee under a fake name.

An investigation was launched on Saturday into how and why he was able to fake his history to the migration office.

While Franco A. is currently in jail, Pelzer maintains, “The Center for Political Beauty will not be intimidated.”

The ZPK did not immediately return artnet News’ request for comment.

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