In January 2014, the commander of a French military academy rejected the master's thesis of an elite German army officer under his charge for its extremist argument that human rights could lead to the genocide of Western races.
"If this was a French participant on the course, we would remove him," he told the young officer's German superiors.
An academic hired to review the thesis told senior officers in the German army, the Bundeswehr, that it included racist and radical nationalist content, but they chose not to formally discipline the man as they did not want to jeopardize the career of a high-flying recruit.
That laxness was a violation of German rules, which require that any report of extremism among soldiers immediately be investigated by military intelligence.
Now, the young officer in question, Franco A., is in custody awaiting charges for posing under a false identity as an asylum seeker. Investigators are probing whether he planned an attack that he seemingly hoped would be blamed on asylum seekers.
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German police on Tuesday detained a second soldier suspected of involvement in a plan by an army officer and a student to carry out an attack, possibly on politicians who do not oppose immigration, the federal public prosecutor said.
Prosecutors believe the three suspects wanted to implicate asylum seekers in their planned attack, in a case that has shocked Germans and stirred a debate about the depth of right-wing radicalism in the country's military.
The prosecutor's office named the third suspect in the case as Maximilian T., a 27-year-old German national.
"The accused is strongly suspected of planning a severe act of violence against the state out of a right-wing extremist conviction," it said in a statement.
Former president Joachim Gauck and Justice Minister Heiko Maas were on a list of possible targets prepared by the suspects, who wanted to make their attack look like the work of Islamist militants, the prosecutor's office added.
The first soldier and the student, identified respectively as Franco A. and Mathias F., were detained on April 26.
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