Militants target editor in ‘G8 rehearsal’

Time May 22th 2007

The private Mercedes of the Editor of the mass-circulation Bild newspaper was set ablaze yesterday, apparently by militants gearing up for violent clashes at the G8 summit next month.

The arson attack on Kai Diekmann’s car has sent a ripple of panic through the political class as Germany seems to be hurtling towards a showdown between the antiglobalisation movement and police trying to shield the world’s leaders, who gather at a Baltic spa in the first week of June.

Mr Diekmann is one of the most influential media personalities in Germany, and his newspaper, with a readership of about 12 million, is viewed as a conservative archenemy by the radical Left.

Other personal attacks in the past few months include the burning of the cars of Thomas Mirow, a junior economics minister, and a top economic researcher. The house of a senior Lufthansa executive has been pelted with paint and bricks. In Berlin alone there have been 51 politically motivated cases of arson since the beginning of this year. So far there have been no casualties Mr Diekmann’s car was destroyed in the early hours outside his apartment block in Hamburg. “There is no such thing as harmless violence against property,” the Mayor of Hamburg, Ole von Beust, said. “We are taking this very seriously indeed.”

Intelligence reports suggest that the radical Left could shift the battleground to Hamburg next month if security around the summit proves too restrictive. A 12km (eight-mile) steel-and-barbed-wire fence has been built around the venue, a hotel complex in the resort of Heiligendamm, and police are preparing for their biggest postwar deployment.

On Monday there will be a demonstration in Hamburg against a meeting of European and Asian ministers. On June 2, in nearby Rostock, there will be an antiG8 rock concert, and over the following days about 100,000 protesters will descend on northern Germany – in specially commissioned trains from southern Europe and by ship from Scandinavia, but mainly by bus. Tent cities will surround the stockaded compound of the leaders.

In Görlitzer Park, in Berlin, one can take part in master classes – run by veteran anarchists – in how to blockade streets and resist arrest. One aim is to clog access roads from Rostock airport and prevent the arrival of interpreters to the summit.

The anti-G8 tribes include Catholic groups, trade unionists and even neo-Nazis. But the radical vanguard is made up of three left-wing groupings: the Interventionist Left, the Revolutionary G8 Alliance and Dissent. Police have also mounted raids on an organisation calling itself the Militant Groups.

The aim of the police swoops so far has been to detain the gurus of the antiglobalisation movement and discover more about their plans. Over the past month it has become clear that the new generation is making common cause with former terrorists from the 1970s and 1980s. At a Berlin rally this month Ralf Reinders – jailed for his part in the 1975 kidnapping of a Christian Democrat politician – defended some of the crimes committed by the Baader-Meinhof Gang. The young protesters applauded and held up placards calling for the release of another former terrorist, Christian Klar.

At least one of the people targeted in this month’s police raids was actively involved in organising a wave of arson attacks to coincide with a session in Berlin in 1988 of the International Monetary Fund.

“We are worried that the Heiligendamm summit on June 6 will become a crystallisation point for left-wing militancy in Germany,” a German security expert said. There was, he said, a parallel to be drawn between the student protest movement of the 1960s during Germany’s first grand coalition Government and the current protesters, who also see themselves as the only true voice of opposition.

“Student anger fed terrorism in those days,” he said. “We don’t want something similar happening again.”