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Two ex-soldiers arrested in Germany over bid to form fighting force for Yemen

BERLIN: Police on Wednesday arrested two former German soldiers accused of trying to form a “terrorist” paramilitary group to fight in Yemen’s civil war, prosecutors said.

The two men had taken steps to “create a paramilitary unit of 100 to 150 men” composed of former police officers and soldiers, the Karlsruhe federal prosecutor’s office in southwestern Germany said.

Named as Arend-Adolf G. and Achim A., both German citizens, the pair are accused of starting to plan their “terrorist organisation” in early 2021.

Arend-Adolf G., who was allegedly responsible for recruitment, had already contacted at least seven people in the hope of bringing them on board “to intervene in the civil war in Yemen”, the prosecutors said.

Both suspects were “aware that the unit they were to command would inevitably have to carry out acts of killing during their mission” and also expected civilians to be killed and injured, the prosecutors said.

They had been hoping to secure funds from Saudi Arabia for the project and were intending to pay members a monthly wage of 40,000 euros ($46,000) each.

Achim A. is accused of contacting representatives of the Saudi Arabian government and trying to arrange a meeting, but the prosecutors said the government did not respond.

A Saudi-led coalition has for years been fighting against so-called Houthi rebels in Yemen, who are in turn supported by Iran.

The two suspects had wanted their unit to help bring peace in Yemen by pushing for negotiations between the Houthi rebels and the Yemeni government, according to the prosecutors.

The pair were arrested by special forces on Wednesday morning in the southwestern district of Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald and in Munich. They later appeared before a judge and were remanded in custody.

The suspects’ flats were searched in Munich and in the southern German district of Calw, and further properties were also searched in Baden-Wuerttemberg and Bavaria.

A spokesman for the defence ministry said it was “working very closely with the investigating authorities” on the case, but the two suspects were “not members of the Bundeswehr in the last quarter of a century”.

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