Abstract: In what has been widely seen as the most significant prosecution against violent left-wing extremism in Germany in over two decades, four individuals were sentenced in May 2023 to prison terms for violent attacks. These attacks targeted real and alleged right-wing extremists. The case has raised fears that Germany is on the brink of a left-wing terrorism resurgence. The trial and in-depth media reporting sheds new light on Lina Engel, the alleged coordinator of the group; its other members; and the attacks they conducted in the years 2018-2020. Elements from the network continue to be active, with several members in hiding and authorities concerned over further radicalization.

On May 31, 2023, the State-level Higher Regional Court in Dresden sentenced four individuals, including Lina Engel,a a female university student and leader of the violent left-wing extremist group, to prison sentences for politically motivated assaults.1 Their prosecution underlined how some members of this milieu were escalating their violent activities away from violent riots and arson attacks to targeted assaults that in at least one case was so violent that authorities saw the group as willing to accept that their target might die. This revived bad memories in Germany, with the interior minister of the State of Saxony, Armin Schuster, seeing parallels with the notorious terrorist group Red Army Factionb that terrorized the Federal Republic of Germany in the 1970s and 1980s.2

This article begins by describing the attacks on right-wing extremists that Engel’s group was found guilty of committing, based on information from court hearings.3 Next, based on the testimony of a former member of Engel’s group, the nature and structure of the group is studied. This is followed by a description of its two leadership figures, Lina Engel, who, as noted above, was convicted, and Johann Guntermann, who remains on the run from justice. The article then outlines the resilience and commitment of the group. Finally, the article studies the “internationalization” of the group’s “anti-fascist” attacks, as evident in its continued assaults on right-wing extremists in Germany and abroad.

The criminal investigation; the court hearings, including the testimony of a former member of the group; and in-depth, open-source analysis provide an exceptionally detailed and rich picture of an active violent left-wing extremist group.

The Attacks
According to the president of Germany’s internal intelligence service (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, BfV), Thomas Haldenwang, small clandestine groups have emerged within the violence-orientated left-wing extremist milieu that are conducting “very sophisticated, professional attacks against their political enemies … While the threshold to terrorism has not yet been crossed, with the current radicalization trend continuing, the moment for this crossing over is closer.”4 Notwithstanding the assessment of German authorities, it could be argued that politically motivated violent assaults targeted at specific individuals already constitute terrorism, according to Bruce Hoffman’s definition of terrorism as the “deliberate creation and exploitation of fear through violence or the threat of violence in the pursuit of political change.”5 In the case of Engel’s group, violent intimidation and physical harm was utilized to prevent their political opponents, that is far-right extremists, from continuing their activities.

At the center of these warnings is a group that started to conduct violent attacks against right-wing extremists or individuals deemed to be such in 2018. The group aimed to “violently target members deemed as right-wing extremists and cause significant bodily harm to prevent them and other members of the ‘right-wing milieu’ to continue their activities.”6

At the center of attention has been Lina Engel, the leader of the group, and a series of attacks she and her co-defendants were found guilty for:

1. On January 8, 2019, in the Leipzig neighborhood of Connewitz, a sanitation worker who was wearing a cap from a clothing brand favored in the extreme right-wing milieu was assaulted. While Engel kept the colleague of the assaulted man from intervening, at least four others assaulted the worker causing him severe physical injuries.7

2. On the night between October 18-19, 2019, 11 members of the group stormed the bar “Bull’s Eye,” a known meeting point for right-wing extremists in Eisenach. The attack targeted the bar owner, right-wing extremist Leon Ringl.c Using irritant spray, batons, and their fists, the attackers tried to assault Ringl, but due to his resistance, the attack degenerated into a tussle. Engel—functioning as the “supervisor” of the attack—called off the attack and sprayed the bar with irritant spray.8

3. On the night between December 13-14, 2019, Leon Ringl was targeted again, this time as he was on his way home. A “scout” from the group reported his movements and when Ringl made it to his home door, the group attacked him armed with batons and a hammer. Engel, as the “supervisor” for the attack, sprayed Ringl with irritant spray. However, Ringl was able to fend off the attackers. The group retreated but came across three associates of Ringl who were running to come to his assistance. The attackers assaulted these people and demolished their vehicle before fleeing from Eisenach. Engel and another member of her group who was convicted— Lennart Arning—were stopped and arrested by the police.9

4. On February 15, 2020, at least eight members of the group—including Jannis Rohling and Jonathan Philipp Mohr—ambushed a group of right-wing extremists in Wurzen as these extremists were returning from a demonstration in Dresden. Engel had functioned as a “scout,” shadowing the group from Dresden to Wurzen, where the “attack group” intercepted them, beating up four of them, inflicting significant physical injuries.10

5. The group planned an attack on Brian E.,d who was part of the right-wing extremist milieu in Leipzig. Engel and Rohling had conducted “target observation” in preparation for the attack, planned for June 8, 2020. Mohr traveled from Berlin to Leipzig to partake in the attack. Authorities foiled the attack.11

The defendants were additionally suspected of participating in two more attacks: on right-wing extremists Enrico B.e on October 2, 2018, in Leipzig and Cedric S.f on October 30, 2018, in Wurzen. However, the prosecution could not prove without reasonable doubt that the accused participated in these assaults.12

Engel, Rohling, Arning, and Mohr were sentenced to prison terms. Engel received the hardest sentence of five years and three months for her leadership position in a criminal entity and causing “severe bodily harm” on multiple accounts. Arning and Mohr were sentenced to prison sentences of three years and three years and two months, respectively. Rohling received a sentence of two years and five months. While Engel and Arning were sentenced as “members,” Rohling and Mohr were sentenced as “supporters” of the criminal entity.13

Fluid Structures
The prosecution was largely successful due to the testimony of 30-year-old Johannes D., who had become an outcast within the milieu of the extreme-left after accusations that he had sexually assaulted a fellow activist. His testimony enabled German authorities to piece together the internal dynamics of the network.g

According to the German Federal Police (Bundeskriminalamt, BKA), a key challenge in the investigation had been its fluid nature, which was difficult to comprehend from the outside.14 Johannes D. described the group more as a “fluid network” than a hierarchical group: “My experience from militant politics is that a group is a flexible network. … There is no ‘forced-compositions’ … that means you don’t always do things with the same people.”15

With the assistance of Johannes D., authorities were able to model the internal structure of the group, consisting of three circles.16 The ‘Leipzig circle’ around Engel formed the core, organized the training, and planned and ‘invited’ activists for specific ‘actions’ (attacks). The next circle consisted of trusted individuals who had received training and had a record of participating in ‘actions,’ while the third circle consisted of loosely connected individuals spread around Germany, who were ‘brought in’ for specific activities. Internal division of labor in the group was fluid and hierarchical structures were kept as flat as possible.17

Johannes D.’s testimony weighed significantly also in the question on how systematically the group had prepared for its assaults. He testified on training sessions that the group organized in Leipzigh in preparation for its “militant urban fight”:

It was an old brick building … we trained together movement sequences, different ways of attacking, scenario training. The training was always limited to an attack time of around 30 seconds. Firstly, 30 seconds is a relatively long time, and it is the time window where you can do a lot of damage but also escape. A tussle should be avoided because no damage can be done in a tussle. One of the attackers was the supervisor, one person made the first contact … the first touch, the first grab.18

The aim was to inflict the maximum amount of physical harm in the shortest time possible, without killing their victim.19

In the planning phase for an attack, the group conducted target observation to find out daily routines and patterns.20 In attacks, tasks were divided: A “scout” shadowed the target, informing the “attack group,” for example waiting in a car to carry out an ambush. A “supervisor” was in charge of “managing” the attack, giving orders to start and stop and surveying the surroundings when the attack was ongoing. Finally, the rest of the group, especially those members with martial arts experience, were used as attackers.21

The group carried out two different types of attacks. Firstly, the group conducted spontaneous violent assaults against individuals deemed as belonging to the right-wing extremist milieu that were spotted and reported to the group. In this methodology, individuals connected to the group spotted individuals who behaved suspiciously or wore clothing brands associated with right-wing extremists and reported these individuals to the attack group. This was then followed by the arrival of masked attackers who assaulted the individual. The Leipzig attack of January 8, 2019, and possibly another on August 31, 2021,i serve as examples of this modus operandi. Secondly, the group conducted meticulously planned, targeted assaults.22 These included the targeted assaults on Leon Ringl and a planned assault on Brian E.

Key Leaders: The “Engel – Guntermann” Group
Engel was arrested on November 5, 2020, and put on pre-trial detention. Her alleged role as a female leader of the violent group resulted in an intense media focus and her emergence as a rallying figure for the extreme far-left.23

Engel was born in 1995 in Kassel, State of Hesse, her mother a social educator and father a senior teacher. Following school, Engel moved to Leipzig in 2013 to pursue studies in social pedagogy at the nearby university of Halle.24 Her bachelor’s degree study focused on how youth work should address neo-Nazism through studying the case of “Winzerla,” a youth club in Jena, which far-right terrorists from the NSUj had frequented.25 For authorities, the fact that her undergraduate study focused on the NSU pointed to an ideologically motivated radicalization.26

In Leipzig, Engel lived in the neighborhood of Connewitz, known for its active leftist tradition and alternative leftist subculture.27 She was a known but not prominent figure in the local Connewitz leftist milieu.28

The verdict of the Dresden court did not depict Engel as the sole founder or leader of the group, stating that she had acted in cooperation with a fellow far-left extremist called Johann Guntermann, who is currently on the run.29 The German police published a public warrant on September 25, 2023, offering a reward for information on Guntermann.30 The German authorities categorize Guntermann as a “Gefährder,” a term officially used to describe a person willing and capable to further an ideologically motivated cause by violent means. Warning that Guntermann was dangerous, the warrant contained a picture of his knuckles, with “Hate Cops” tattooed onto them.31

There are speculations that Guntermann was crucial in radicalizing and introducing Engel to the left-wing extremist milieu.32 However, state witness Johannes D. doubted this: “I would not say that Johann dominated Lina or that Lina dominated Johann. I could not say who radicalized whom. Lina and Johann, from my perspective, are two autonomous personalities who fit each other well.”33

Before her first short-lived arrest in December 2019—after the botched attempt on Ringl—Engel had no criminal record;34 the same cannot be said for Guntermann. Born in 1993 in Halle, Guntermann grew up in Leipzig and Bavaria. In the latter, he reportedly joined the local leftist autonomistk-milieu, during which time the first criminal offenses were filed against him.35 l After high school, Guntermann returned in 2011 to Leipzig where he enrolled at university to study history.36 In 2015, he participated in a violent demonstration in Leipzig hurling stones. Although criminal investigations were opened in 196 cases, Guntermann was the only rioter that could be—thanks to his DNA on two stones he had thrown—put on trial. In the same year, Guntermann, together with two accomplices, assaulted a female participant of a right-wing demonstration. In 2017 and 2018, Guntermann was sentenced for these offenses to a combined two years and nine months in prison.37 It is unclear when or how Guntermann and Engel met, but the two are said to have been a couple already in spring 2018, when Guntermann began his jail term in Justizvollzugsanstalt Castrop-Rauxel.38

Guntermann was released from prison on probation in September 2019.39 It seems that immediately after his release in September 2019, he was already planning to go off the grid: Guntermann allegedly gave a false address in Dortmund to his probation officer.40 He seems to have rapidly integrated himself into the group, participating in the Eisenach attacks two months later and playing an important role in recruiting individuals for these assaults.41

According to Johannes D., it was Guntermann who recruited him for the second attack, organized burner phones (to be used only once for coordination and communication in a specific attack) and paid (with money organized through credit card fraud) for train tickets for “scouts” conducting target surveillance.42

Sometime after the arrests of Engel and Arning in December 2019, Guntermann reportedly traveled to Thailand, where he stayed until July 2020. He then returned to the Schengen Area and disappeared.43 There is speculation that after his stint in Thailand, Guntermann spent time in Greece and/or Switzerland.44

Demonstrators throw bottles and paving stones during a so-called “national day of action” organized by far-left activists on June 3, 2023, in Leipzig, Germany, after Lina Engel and three other far-left militants were sentenced to several years in prison after being found guilty of violent attacks on neo-Nazis and alleged far-right supporters between 2018 and 2020. (Jens Schlueter/AFP via Getty Images)

The Resilience and Commitment of the Group
Even though Engel was now known to the authorities due to her initial arrest in Eisenach, the group continued to operate and conduct attacks (in Wurzen) and prepare for new ones, pointing to a high degree of resilience and ideological commitment within group.

It is possible that even the final arrest of Engel on October 5, 2020, did not stop the activities of the group. Two attacks in 2021 had similarities with those conducted by her group. On the morning of March 11, 2021, a group of attackers stormed the home of a right-wing extremist NPDm-youth organization leader Paul Rzehaczek in Eilenburg (northeast of Leipzig). Wearing dark clothes, yellow vests with the words “police” marked on them, and masks, the five attackersn beat Rzehaczek up and searched his home for phones and electronic devices.45

Two months later, on the night May 27-28, 2021, around five masked attackers, again using clothes resembling police uniforms, stormed the Erfurt home of the known far-right extremist Julian F., beat him up and poured chlorine over him.46

While targeting right-wing extremists at their homes and using police uniforms were novelties, the profiles of the targeted individuals were in line with the previous attacks by the Engel – Guntermann network. Investigations of these attacks are ongoing, including to what degree they were linked to the members of that group.47

After what seems to have been an operational pause, the attacks, having the hallmarks of the Engel – Guntermann group in terms of planned, targeted assaults on right-wing extremists, conducted by a group of several attackers, continued on January 12, 2023, with an assault on two far-right extremists in Erfurt, including Florian R.,o with several attackers beating up their victims.48

Guntermann remerged in February 2023, when he—based on surveillance camera footage—took part, together with several members of the group, in assaults in Hungary’s capital Budapest.49 The Budapest attacks on February 9-11, 2023, targeted suspected right-wing extremist participants of the “Day of Honor”p commemorations. A group of masked attackers assaulted individuals whose clothing was deemed to indicate right-wing ideology and inflicted serious injuries on them.50 The Hungarian police was able to arrest or identify several of the attackers, who turned out to be Germans, in addition to a 42-year-old Hungarian and a 38-year-old Italian national.51 The detained Germans included Anna M. and Tobias E., with Simeon T., Moritz Schroeter, Emilie Dieckmann, Clara Wittkugel, Nala Aschoff, Paul Müntnich, and Guntermann suspected of partaking in the attacks.52 The Budapest assaults led to searches in the homes of seven suspects in Jena and Leipzig.53 While Tobias E. remains in Hungarian custody, and Simeon T. was arrested on December 11, 2023, in Berlin, the other suspects remain on the run from justice.54

As of September 2023, the German internal intelligence service (BfV) assessed the number of left-wing extremists that have gone to ground at around 20 individuals belonging mainly to the entourage of Engel and Guntermann.55 Noteworthily, according to the BfV there has not been a reduction in the violent-extremist activity of these individuals.56

While the actual size of the “Engel – Guntermann group” remains unclear, 20 individuals have been publicly associated with it.57 Based on openly available information about these people, some preliminary observations are possible: Firstly, the group consists of individuals aged between 21-46 years, of both sexes. The male members of the group (average age 31) tended to be older than the female members of the group (average age 23), with age not correlating with alleged leadership position.58 Secondly, female participation in the group is notable (31.5% of members), especially in the youngest age segment.59 Thirdly, the majority of members of the group had a personal connection to Leipzig, Saxony, or Thuringia. Finally, several are or have been studying at university level. Overall, the group seems to consist of a mixture of individuals with a record of violent rioting and associated crimes and individuals that, before their arrest, had not come to the attention of law enforcement.60

Interestingly, it seems that the group continues to attract new members. In late November 2023, German authorities were reported to be searching for the 33-year-old Joris S. who, on June 3, 2023, threw a Molotov cocktail at riot police during a demonstration in Leipzig in solidarity against the conviction of Lina Engel. Now suspected of attempted murder, Joris S. is feared to have joined other members of the Engel – Guntermann group in hiding.61 Before his accused attack against police, Joris S. had not been publicly associated with known members of the Engel – Guntermann group.

From Local to International “Anti-Fascism”?
Analyzing the attacks in 2018-2020, the geographical concentration on Leipzig, Eisenach, and Wurzen is noticeable, pointing to an intimate, local conflict between the left- and the right-wing extremist milieus. While clashes between members of these subcultures are nothing new, a possible trigger event for further radicalization on the left might have been the violent attack by right-wing hooligans against the Leipzig neighborhood of Connewitz. On January 11, 2016, several hundred attacked the neighborhood in what right-wing extremists celebrated as the “Storming of Connewitz.”62 While police arrested two hundred of the hooligans, the slow pace of the investigation and court processes against them possibly contributed to a strengthened perception and narrative in leftist circles that the state was unable or unwilling to deal with right-wing extremism, “forcing” the left-wing militants to take matters into their own hands.63

Indeed, it is reported that the group around Engel had obtained a list of 216 right-wing extremists who had participated in the “Storming of Connewitz” and were targeting these for revenge: Of the individuals they assaulted, Cedric S., Brian E., and Julian F. had allegedly taken part in it.64

This would explain who was selected for targeting. In the case of the two failed attacks in Eisenach, the persistence in targeting Ringl is most likely explained by his leading role in the right-wing extremist milieu, but it is interesting that far-right extremists were attempting to turn Eisenach into a “Nazi Kiez” (i.e., a right-wing alternative neighborhood,65) a mirror image of Connewitz of sorts.

After Engel’s arrest in November 2020, the center of targeted assaults by far-left extremists moved geographically to the state of Thuringia, with several attacks conducted in Erfurt.66 At the same time, BfV saw an increased connectivity among the left-wing extremist groups inside Germany.67

The attacks in Budapest represented a significant departure from a territorial focus on Saxony and Thuringia, signalizing a new transnational “anti-fascism” ideological commitment by the Engel – Guntermann network with selected victims for the first time including non-German nationals.q Secondly, the mixture of Germans and non-Germans in the attacks demonstrated the increased international connectivity of the group. In recent times, Italy, Greece, and Spain have served as epicenters for indigenous left-wing and anarchist terrorism.68 Europol observed in its Terrorism and Trend report (TE-SAT) in 2021 and again in 2022 a growing connectedness in the left-wing and anarchist extremist scene internationally, mainly on an individual level. There have been very strong connections within this milieu in Europe, especially between neighboring countries and where a common language is used.69 In the Budapest attacks, language barriers seem to have been successfully overcome, with Germans operating together with Hungarian and Italian nationals.

A further, dangerous indicator of increased international connectivity emerged through the investigation of the March 11, 2021, assault on Paul Rzehaczek: Law enforcement identified one of the attackers as a known left-wing extremist with combat experience abroad. The German man in question allegedly stayed in recent years in northern Syria, where he participated in the activities of a foreign terrorist group—allegedly a group close to the Kurdish PKK.70 r In searches in Thuringia, the police was able to confiscate this man’s “shooters diary,” where he had written notes of his frontline missions as a sniper for the group. Authorities have linked him to leading members of the Engel – Guntermann group.71

Germany’s BfV has assessed that the risk posed by small clandestine left-wing extremist groups has grown, with its violence becoming more professional, aggressive, targeted, person-orientated, and brutal, including against security authorities.72 If indeed these groups include individuals with combat experience from abroad and connections to foreign terrorist groups, the potential for radicalization to outright terrorism is real, with authorities no longer excluding the possibility of fatal attacks.73

In comparison to historic left-wing extremist terrorist groups, the “Engel – Guntermann” group very specifically targeted right-wing extremists or individuals deemed as such; the group is not known to have targeted, as of yet, representatives of the state or law enforcement authorities.

Instead, the Engel – Guntermann group seems to have grown from being motivated mostly by local conflict with the right-wing extremist milieu in and around Leipzig to a group acting more internationally, as evidenced by the attacks in Budapest. The fact that the group’s members collaborated with non-Germans in attacks points to increased links to groups outside Germany. This kind of interconnectivity between left-wing extremist milieus in Europe can contribute to changes in tactics and targeting patterns.

The Engel – Guntermann group showed resilience and ideological commitment, withstanding blows from law enforcement and justice authorities. For German authorities, it is of utmost importance to prevent further radicalization toward violence of the group members still at large. Members of the group make up many of the 20 or so left-wing extremists assessed to be still at large and “underground” by German authorities.74

For Germany, the reemergence of more violence orientated left-wing extremist actors has diversified the threat posed by non-state actors even further. Violent left-wing extremism is also of growing concern across Europe. According to Europol’s most recent Terrorism Situation and Trend Report (TE-SAT) report, in 2022 “16 attacks were completed, of which the majority were attributed to left-wing and anarchist terrorism (13), two to jihadist terrorism, and one to right-wing terrorism.”75 What is notable about the numbers is that over 80 percent of completed terrorist attacks were carried out by left-wing and anarchist actors, even as EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Ilkka Salmi assessed in November 2023 that “currently, violent left-wing and anarchist terrorism in the E.U. is more geographically concentrated than jihadist terrorism and right-wing terrorism” and that “left-wing and anarchist terrorist attacks are generally far less lethal than jihadist and right-wing terrorist attacks.”76 While left-wing violent extremism does not currently represent as acute a threat as currently manifested by other ideologies, as illuminated by this case study of the Engel – Guntermann network and its fellow travelers in Germany, the recent concerning trend among German left-wing extremists is toward greater violence and transnationalism.     CTC

Dr. Christian Jokinen received his doctorate from the Department for Contemporary History at the University of Turku in Finland. He specializes in researching political violence and terrorism.

© 2024 Christian Jokinen

Substantive Notes
[a] German authorities and media customarily identify suspected or convicted individuals with only the first letter of their last name. However, some right-wing “alternative” media platforms have not held to this norm, “outing” or revealing the full identities of the suspected or convicted left-wing activists. In order not to encourage and/or to escalate the cycle of right- and left-wing activists “outings” (also known as “doxing”), this author deems it sufficient to identify the individuals in question in the format used by German authorities and mainstream media. In cases where German authorities have officially named the suspects with full names and/or the names have been re-printed by mainstream media in Germany or abroad, full names are also given in this article. It is also worth mentioning that as Lina Engel became a symbol to the left-wing milieu, her full name has been used in graffiti’s demanding her release.

[b] Rote Armee Fraktion (RAF), also known as the “Baader-Meinhof -Group” (after its founding members Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof), conducted a campaign of terrorist bombings, assassinations, kidnappings, bank robberies, and shoot-outs with police over the course of three decades, resulting in the death of 34 persons. The group formed in 1970 and announced its dissolution on April 30, 1998. “Geschichte der RAF,” Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung, August 20, 2007; Stefan Aust, “Der Baader-Meinhof Komplex,” Piper Verlag, 2020.

[c] Leon Ringl was arrested by German law enforcement authorities in a nationwide operation against right-wing extremists on April 20, 2022, and is currently in pre-trial detention. In May 2023, the German State prosecutor opened a criminal prosecution against Ringl and three other suspected right-wing extremists for establishing the “Knockout 51” neo-Nazi group. “Generalbundesanwalt klagt mutmaßliche Neonazi-Kampfsportler aus Eisenach an,” MDR Thüringen, May 15, 2023, Ibrahim Naber and Lennart Pfahler, “Bis einer Stirbt,” Die Welt, May 23, 2023; Celine Löffelhardt, “Prozessstart gegen ‘Knockout 51’ – Rechtsextreme planten ‘Nazi-Kiez,’” ZDF, August 21, 2023.

[d] The case of Brian E. and his studies to become a lawyer has caused controversy in Germany. In May 2020, the Higher State level court of Dresden ruled that despite his right-wing extremism and a sentence for a criminal offence with a political motive, Brian E. could not be prevented from becoming a lawyer. “Trotz Verurteilung: Referendar darf Volljurist werden,” RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland, May 19, 2020; “Connewitz-Krawalle: Urteil gegen Rechtsreferendar ist rechtskräftig,” Leipziger Volkszeitung, May 11, 2020.

[e] Four attackers assaulted Enrico B. in front of his home. Enrico B. was a city council representative of the right-wing extremist party NPD and has been sentenced for right-wing extremist crimes. Wiebke Ramm, “Die linke Angeklagte, der rechte Zeuge und viele offene Fragen,” Spiegel, September 23, 2021.

[f] Cedric S. was assaulted by four masked attackers. Cedric S. had been convicted for crimes with right-wing extremist motivation. Wiebke Ramm, “Im Fußball würde man sagen, er hat meinen Kopf volley genommen,” Spiegel, October 1, 2021.

[g] The testimony of Johannes D. was significant as insider testimonies within the extreme far-left are very rare, as are cases of individuals publicly disengaging from the extreme left in Germany. Edgar Lopez, “Urteil gegen eine linke Symbolfigur,” Tagesschau, May 31, 2023; Denise Peikert, “Prozess gegen Lina E.: ‘Kronzeugen’-Aussage bietet Zündstoff für die linke Szene,” Leipziger Volkszeitung, July 27, 2022.

[h] Trainings took place in several places. The training was organized for four to eight participants at a time. Denise Peikert, “Wo die Gruppe um Lina E. Angriffe auf Neonazis trainiert haben soll,” Leipziger Volkszeitung, August 29, 2022.

[i] According to a media report about the August 2021 attack, a young man was returning from work in the evening when he was toppled from his bicycle and beaten up by masked assailants, using different kind of striking tools. The individual was likely targeted because he was carrying a clothing item from a brand favored in the extreme far-right milieu. Alexander Bischoff, “Brutale Hammer-Bande: Auch ohne Lina schlägt die linke ‘Kiez-Miliz’ immer wieder zu,” Tag24, September 7, 2021.

[j] Nationalsozialistischer Untergrund (NSU) was a far-right terrorist group that between the years 2000 and 2007 conducted 10 murders, two bomb attacks, and several other criminal activities. “National Socialist Underground,” Konrad Adenauer Foundation, n.d.

[k] Autonomists are by far the largest group among violence-oriented left-wing extremists. Autonomists reject all forms of external control. They regard all types of state and rule as equally authoritarian and believe that they should be replaced with an order free of domination. The largest autonomist scenes are in Berlin, Hamburg, and Leipzig. “Left-wing extremism,” Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV) website, n.d.

[l] These first criminal offenses have not been made public in mainstream media.

[m] “Nationale Partei Deutschlands” (NPD) is an extreme far-right political party.

[n] One of the attackers, a 24-year-old male suspect from Thuringia, was arrested in May 2023. Mathias Schönknecht, “Nach Überfall auf NPD-Politiker in Eilenburg und der Festnahme in Jena: Gibt es Verbindung zu Lina E.?” Leipziger Volkszeitung, May 26, 2023.

[o] Florian R. is allegedly a member of the “Neue Stärke Partei,” a right-wing party. Karl Keim, “Polizei macht Jagd auf linksextreme Axt-Angreifer,” Bild, February 10, 2023.

[p] The right-wing extremist gathering commemorates the day when German and Hungarian troops attempted to break out from Buda on the evening of February 11, 1945.

[q] Individuals attacked included two German, three Hungarian, and three Polish nationals. “Razzia: Wohnungen mutmaßlicher Linksextremisten in Jena und Leipzig durchsucht,” MDR, March 15, 2023.

[r] PKK stands for Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan. The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is a leftist terrorist group fighting the state of Turkey. The PKK is sanctioned as a terrorist group by the United States, European Union, and the United Kingdom.

[1] Oberlandesgericht Dresden, “Urteil im Staatsschutzverfahren gegen Lina E. u.a. verkündet” 31.5.2023, 4 st 2/21.

[2] “Sachsens Innenminister zieht Vergleiche zu RAF,” T-Online, June 6, 2023.

[3] The excerpts from court documents quoted in this article were translated by the author.

[4] “Lina E. – ein Urteil mit Folgen,” Tagesschau, July 3, 2023.

[5] Bruce Hoffman, Inside Terrorism-Revised and Expanded Edition (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006), p. 40.

[6] Oberlandesgericht Dresden, “Urteil im Staatsschutzverfahren gegen Lina E. u.a. verkündet” 31.5.2023, 4 st 2/21.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Edgar Lopez and Bastian Wierzioch, “‘Flexibles Geflecht’ bis Budapest?” Tagesschau, March 27, 2023.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid.

[18] “Der Fall Lina E.,” Part 2, Leipziger Volkszeitung (LVZ) and Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND): Podcast, September 29, 2023.

[19] “Lina E. – ein Urteil mit Folgen.”

[20] Ibrahim Naber, Manuel Bewarder, Uwe Müller, and Lennart Pfahler, “Der Hammer hing gleich hinter der Wohnungstür,” Die Welt, November 13, 2020.

[21] Denise Peikert, “Prozess gegen Lina E.: ‘Kronzeugen’-Aussage bietet Zündstoff für die linke Szene,” Leipziger Volkszeitung, July 27, 2022.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Markus Wehner, “25 Alte Studentin soll linksextremistische Gruppe anführen,” Frankfurter Allgemeine November 6, 2020; Kai Kollenberg and Josa Mania-Schlegel, “Wie Lina E. Zur Symbolfigur der linken Szene wurde,” Leipziger Volkszeitung, September 7, 2021.

[24] “Der Fall Lina E.,” Part 1, Leipziger Volkszeitung (LVZ) and Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND): Podcast, September 29, 2023; Martin Schöler and Michael Freitag, “Der Fall Lina E.: Ein erster Chronikversuch zu den Vorwürfen,” Leipziger Zeitung, July 7, 2021.

[25] “Das sind die Köpfe der Hammerbande,” Bild, June 5, 2023.

[26] “Der Fall Lina E.,” Part 1.

[27] Ibid.

[28] “Der Fall Lina E.,” Part 3, Leipziger Volkszeitung (LVZ) and Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND): Podcast, September 29, 2023.

[29] Oberlandesgericht Dresden, “Urteil im Staatsschutzverfahren gegen Lina E. U.a. verkündet” 31.5.2023, 4 st 2/21.

[30] “Guntermann, Johann,” Bundeskriminalamt website, September 25, 2023.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Ibrahim Naber, “Der Mann, den sie ‘Lücke’ nennen,” Die Welt, February 15, 2021; “Der Fall Lina E.,” Part 1.

[33] “Der Fall Lina E.,” Part 4, Leipziger Volkszeitung (LVZ) and Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND): Podcast, September 29, 2023.

[34] “Der Fall Lina E.,” Part 3.

[35] Naber.

[36] Ibid.

[37] Frank Döring, “Nach linksextremen Krawallen: Nur ein Steinewerfer verurteilt,” Leipziger Volkszeitung, December 3, 2018.

[38] “Der Fall Lina E.,“ Part 3.

[39] Kevin Kindel, “Kopfgeld für Linksextremisten mit Dortmund-Bezug Polizei sucht Johann G. Mit Fotos,” Ruhr Nachrichten, September 25, 2023.

[40] Kevin Kindel, “Großer Prozess gegen militante Linksextreme: Neue Spur zu Angriff in Dortmund?” Ruhr Nachrichten, September 12, 2022; Naber.

[41] Naber.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Karl Keim and Bernhard Schilz, “Staatsfeind Johannes G. Auf der Flucht,” Bild, February 5, 2023.

[45] Julius Geiler, “Falsche Polizisten verschaffen sich Zutritt: NPD-Jungpolitiker wurde offenbar in eigener Wohnung attackiert,” Tagesspiegel, March 11, 2021; Ibrahim Naber and Lennart Pfahler, “Generalbundesanwalt weitet Verfahren gegen Linksextremisten aus – Spur nach Syrien,” Die Welt, May 20, 2023.

[46] Julius Geiler, “Brutale Attacke in Erfurt,” Tagesspiegel, May 28, 2021.

[47] Denise Peikert, “Angriff auf Rechtsextreme: LKA ermittelt gegen Verdächtigen – Verbindung zu Lina E.?” Leipziger Volkszeitung, October 24, 2022.

[48] Karl Keim, “Polizei macht Jagd auf linksextreme Axt-Angreifer,” Bild, February 10, 2023.

[49] Lopez and Wierzioch; Edgar Lopez, “Flüchtiger Linksextremist wohl an Angriffen in Budapest beteiligt,” MDR, March 24, 2023.

[50] Fabian Klaus, “Budapester Attacke mit Verbindung nach Thüringen,” Thüringer Allgemeine, February 16, 2023.

[51] “Angriff auf mutmaßliche Rechtsextremisten: Ungarische Polizei fahndet nach Leipzigern,” MDR Sachsen, February 17, 2023; “Suspects of Budapest Antifa Attacks Remain Behind Bars,” Hungary Today, August 17, 2023.

[52] Karl Keim, “Deutsche Linksextreme in Ungarn verhaftet,” Bild, February 13, 2023; “Das sind die Köpfe der Hammerbande;” Denise Peikert, “Brutale Angriffe: Ungarns Polizei sucht zwei mutmaßliche Linksextremisten aus Leipzig,” Leipziger Volkszeitung, February 16, 2023.

[53] “Razzia: Wohnungen mutmaßlicher Linksextremisten in Jena und Leipzig durchsucht,” MDR, March 15, 2023.

[54] “Suspects of Budapest Antifa Attacks Remain Behind Bars,” Hungary Today, August 17, 2023. Manuel Bewarder, Florian Flade, and Sebastian Pittelkow, “Gesuchter Linksextremist in Berlin festgenommen,” Tagesschau, December 12, 2023.

[55] “Warnung vor Linksextremismus – Zahl der Untergetauchten offenbar gestiegen,” Die Welt, September 25, 2023.

[56] Manuel Bewarder, Florian Flade, and Sebastian Pittelkow, “Zahl untergetauchter Linksextremisten steigt,” Tagesschau, September 24, 2023.

[57] Author’s research. See Appendix.

[58] Ibid.

[59] Ibid.

[60] Ibid.

[61] Karl Keim, “Molotowcocktail auf Polizisten geworfen Gefährlicher Linksextremist untergetaucht,” Bild, December 8, 2023.

[62] “Fünf Jahre ‘Sturm auf Connewitz’ – Schleppende Aufklärung,” Tageszeitung, January 11, 2021.

[63] “Der Fall Lina E.,” Part 3.

[64] Ibid.

[65] Celine Löffelhardt, “Prozessstart gegen ‘Knockout 51’ : Rechtsextreme planten ‘Nazi-Kiez,’” ZDF, August 21, 2023.

[66] “Lina E. – ein Urteil mit Folgen.”

[67] Bewarder, Flade, and Pittelkow, “Zahl untergetauchter Linksextremisten steigt.”

[68] European Union Terrorism and Trend report 2020.

[69] European Union Terrorism and Trend report (TE-SAT) 2021 and 2022.

[70] Alexander Bischoff, “Brutale Hammer-Bande: Auch ohne Lina schlägt die linke ‘Kiez-Miliz’ immer wieder zu,” Tag24, September 7, 2021.

[71] Ibid.

[72] “Left-wing extremism,” Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV) website, n.d.; “Verfassungsschutz: Hohe Gewaltneigung bei Extremisten,” Die Zeit, June 20, 2023.

[73] Bewarder, Flade, and Pittelkow, “Zahl untergetauchter Linksextremisten steigt.”

[74] Konrad Litschko, “BKA fahndet nach abgetauchtem Autonomen: Suche nach tätowierten Händen,” Tageszeitung, September 25, 2023.

[75] “European Union Terrorism Situation and Trend Report (TE-SAT) 2023,” Europol, June 14, 2023 (updated October 26, 2023).

[76] Paul Cruickshank, “A View from the CT Foxhole: Ilkka Salmi, EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator,” CTC Sentinel 16:10 (2023).

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