1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Germany: False alarm in hunt for terrorist on run since 90s

February 17, 2024

SWAT teams swarmed Wuppertal's central station after receiving a tip that former RAF terrorist Ernst-Volker Staub had been spotted. A man and a woman were detained for questioning but were later released.

A heavily armed SWAT team at Wuppertal's main train station
Police swarmed Wuppertal's train station Saturday in hopes of apprehending former RAF terrorist Ernst-Volker StaubImage: Gianni Gattus/Blaulicht Solingen/dpa/picture alliance

Police and special SEK units (akin to a SWAT team in the US) stormed the western city of Wuppertal's central train station on Saturday after receiving a tip suggesting former left-wing terrorist Ernst-Volker Staub may have been sighted on a train there.

Staub a former member of Germany's RAF (Red Army Faction), better known as the Baader-Meinhof Group, is wanted for attempted murder as well as armed robbery alongside Daniela Marie Louise Klette and Burkhard Garweg.

A new push to apprehend the trio was started on Wednesday, with the popular unsolved crimes TV show "Akte XY… ungelöst" broadcasting images of the trio on national television.

Police have received more than 160 tips since the program aired this week.

Wanted bilboard featuring an image of former RAF terrorist Ernst-Volker Staub
Investigators say they have received more tha 160 tips after renewing public calls for assistance in the arrest of Ernst-Volker Staub and two accomplicesImage: Julian Stratenschulte/dpa/picture alliance

Station shut, two detained, but mistaken identity

The police response to Saturday's tip resulted in the closure of Wuppertal's train station as well as halting train travel between the cities of Hagen and Cologne.

With Staub assumed to be dangerous, and the man said to bear a "resemblance" to the suspect, police sent in SWAT teams to surround the train and apprehend the individual in question as well as the woman he was traveling with. The train station was closed to commuters during the operation.

"The initial suspicions about the man's identity were not confirmed," according to authorities who released the man and his companion after ascertaining their true identities.

The crimes the trio is wanted for are not related to prior RAF activity, but rather crimes committed between 1999 and 2016, after they went underground.

State prosecutors say the crimes were no longer politically motivated but were instead a series of primarily robberies carried out to attain cash.

RAF terrorized Germany throughout the 1970s and 80s

The left-wing extremist RAF was active in the 1970s and 1980s and terrorized Germany, murdering more than 30 people in all as well as carrying out arson attacks, numerous kidnappings and injuring more than 200 individuals.

Before it disbanded in 1998, the group became infamous for murdering West German Attorney General Siegfried Buback, Dresdner Bank President Jürgen Ponto and business executive Hanns Martin Schleyer.

Staub, Klette and Garweg belonged to the so-called third generation of the RAF, whose crimes included the suspected murders of Deutsche Bank President Alfred Herrnhausen and politician Detlev Karsten Rohwedder.

Schmidt honoured by Schleyer family

js/msh (AFP, dpa)