GERMANY

Dortmund Bombing Suspected To Be Work Of Neo-Nazis

Investigators tell German media that letters claiming Islamic motivations were likely forgeries

GERMANY
AFP/Getty Images
Apr 17, 2017 at 11:32 AM ET

Last week’s pipe bomb attack on the bus carrying German soccer powerhouse Borussia Dortmund was apparently intended to spark violence against Muslims, according to a document leaked to Die Welt newspaper. The current thinking is that the terrorist act was the work of neo-Nazis.

“One of the most likely scenarios is that the attack had a far-right background,” a police spokesman said.

The explosion and shrapnel from the three bombs injured one player, Marca Barta, who suffered a broken wrist, and one police officer but could have been much worse. An investigator told the newspaper Bild am Sonntag that, had the bombs exploded a second earlier, the injuries would have been much worse, with the possibility of several fatalities.

Hoy he vuelto a recibir en el hospital la visita que más feliz me hace. Ellas son mi todo, la razón por la que lucho para superar siempre los obstáculos y este ha sido el peor de mi vida, una experiencia que no desearía a nadie en este mundo. El dolor, el pánico y la incerteza de no saber lo que estaba pasando, ni cuánto tiempo duraría… fueron los 15 minutos más largos y duros de mi vida. A todo esto os quiero decir, que creo que el shock de estos días va disminuyendo cada vez más y a la vez se suman las ganas de vivir, de luchar, de trabajar, de reír, de llorar, de sentir, de querer, de creer, de jugar, de entrenar, de seguir disfrutando de mi gente, seres queridos, compañeros, de mi pasión, de defender, de oler el césped como hago antes de que empiece el partido y motivarme. De ver las gradas llenas de personas que aman nuestra profesión, gente buena que sólo quiere que le hagamos sentir emociones para olvidarse del mundo y sobre todo de este mundo en el que vivimos, cada vez más loco. Lo único que pido, LO ÚNICO, es que vivamos TODOS en paz y dejemos atrás las guerras. Estos días cuando me miro la muñeca, hinchada y malherida, sabéis qué siento? Orgullo. La miro orgulloso pensando en que todo el daño que querían hacernos el martes, se quedó en esto. Gracias a los doctores, enfermeras, fisioterapeutas y personas que me ayudan a recuperar y que la muñeca quede perfecta. A las miles y miles de personas, medios, organizaciones de todo tipo, el BVB y compañeros, que me habéis hecho llegar vuestro apoyo y cariño. Por pequeño que sea, me ha llenado increíblemente de fuerzas para seguir SIEMPRE adelante. Necesitaba escribir y desahogarme y así zanjar todo para ya solo pensar en ponerme al 100% lo más pronto posible! Un saludo muy grande! Marc 💛

A post shared by Marc Bartra (@marcbartra) on

Three identical letters discovered near the site suggested that Islamic terrorists were taking responsibility, but investigators now reportedly doubt that. Among the reasons: the armament and military-grade detonators require supply and skill generally seen as outside the purview of ISIS.

“The explosive in the pipe bombs, which were filled with metal shrapnel, seems to derive from the inventory of the army. But we are still investigating that,” a police source told Die Welt.

The New York Times’ Rukmini Callimachi, whose reporting has focused on ISIS, gave a long rundown explaining the inconsistencies, including these key points:

Security experts also told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper that the letters were likely the work of a native German speaker who incorporated errors into the writing to appear as if German were their second tongue.

An anonymous email purportedly from a far-right group was sent to Tagesspiegel claiming ownership of the attack, but there are doubts of the veracity of that as well. Nevertheless, as Sebastian Fiedler of the German police union said, “Dortmund is known to suffer from a far-right scene, so investigations have to be pursued in that direction as well.”

Indeed, an Associated Press report from four years ago looks awfully prescient, citing the fact that more neo-Nazi incidents take place in Dortmund than anywhere in Germany. Social workers have long been employed by the soccer club to defuse aggression in the stands, but back in Feb. 2013, neo-Nazi fans attacked one of the social workers, leaving the man badly beaten in a bathroom stall. The previous October, there was such rioting that 180 arrests were made after violence injured 11 people, including eight police officers. The ultra groups had taken over the stadium’s south stands, and a Spiegel account noted that several former members of the far-right Desperados group now work as security guards.

“We believe there are a few right-wing extremists,” the club said in a statement at the time. “The authorities say they have not noticed a significant increase in their numbers in recent years. However, there have been significant changes in the type of incidents.”

Soon thereafter, Vice reported that several far-right groups were joining together to protest against Islamic fundamentalists. There is no proof that this is what happened last week in Dortmund, but the long history of far-right hooliganism, some of it with anti-Muslim overtones, has been a regular problem in the area and worth keeping an eye on as German investigators review evidence that suggests last week’s attack was a giant set-up.