Right-wing violence is on the rise in many EU states, according to a confidential Europol report cited by German media. The extremist groups seek to boost their "combat skills" by recruiting military and police members.
EU police agency Europol has warned of growing far-right violence and urged more international cooperation to tackle the problem, Germany's Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Tuesday, citing Europol's confidential "Strategic Report." Public broadcasters WDR and NDR also say they have seen the document.
Far-right and extremist organizations and networks are getting "increasingly popular among younger and better educated demographics," the German paper cited the document as saying. The agency refers to international movements such as Hammerskins, Soldiers of Odin, Combat 18 and Blood & Honour, which is banned in Germany.
Weapons, explosives, combat skills
The extremist groups are showing interest in weapons and explosives, according to Europol.
"In order to build up their physical abilities and combat skills," the report says, "members of extremist far-right groups are attempting to win over members from the military and security services in order to learn their expertise in the area of surveillance and combat readiness."
They are also trying to take advantage of martial arts events.
Refugees, politicians, LGBT+ people targeted
The agency notes the number of arrests linked to far-right terrorism has grown from 12 in 2016 to 44 last year. Far-right extremists usually target refugees and asylum-seekers, but also, more generally, the Muslim population, politicians and sexual minorities. Many of these attacks are not being registered as terrorism, as police forces in various EU countries file them under "extremist activities" instead.
"As a result, Europol currently does not have a comprehensive dataset on all far-right and terrorist incidents reported in EU member states," the agency reportedly said in the latest document.
A meeting of EU interior and justice ministers has been scheduled to discuss the definition of far-right violence in October.
Separately, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer is expected to announce new measures in combating extreme right-wing groups, including a likely ban on Combat 18.