Germany creates national agency to investigate neo-Nazis

Berlin - Germany opened a new national agency Friday charged with tracking subversion by neo-Nazis, in response to criticism that police overlooked a trio of neo-Nazi serial killers for more than a decade.
The self-styled National Socialist Underground (NSU) allegedly killed nine immigrants from 2000 to 2006 and a police officer in 2007, but all the crimes remained unsolved until the gang collapsed with the death of two members and the survivor turning herself in.
The Joint Counter-Intelligence Centre Against Right-Wing Extremism, or GAR, will initially employ 130 to 140 staff.
Most will be on secondment from the national counter-intelligence agency and the national police agency BKA, with the rest from other espionage agencies and security authorities in Germany's 16 states.
The splitting of police work between the states and turf wars between agencies that work in parallel have been blamed for Germany's failure to notice the existence of the killer trio, who did not issue terrorist-style claims of responsibility.
'This has to be fixed,' said Heinz Fromm, head of federal counter-intelligence. He said there was now a risk that other neo-Nazis would copy the NSU.
'From experience, this is something you have to keep a close eye on,' he said.
The new agency will operate from two sites in Cologne and Bonn, joined up by daily video-conferences.
Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said the agency's first task would be to help bring together data on how the NSU functioned. The new agency is modelled on a similar office set up to track Islamist terrorism in Germany.
Meanwhile, the father of one of the two neo-Nazis who died last month in an apparent suicide pact told an interviewer that he hopes to apologize to the families of the victims for his son's 'unbearable' acts.
The news weekly Der Spiegel issued parts of the interview with Siegfried Mundlos, an eastern German professor whose son, Uwe Mundlos, vanished into the neo-Nazi underground more than a decade ago. The son died November 4 in an apparent suicide pact.
The father, who has previously refused interviews, said he would ask to meet the families of nine immigrants and a policewoman as soon as questions had been cleared up. He said he was aware that right now, any contact would upset the families.
The father said the family had vainly tried during the 1990s to stop their son joining the neo-Nazis in the eastern city of Jena.
'I did everything I could think of, but nothing worked,' said the father, who described his son as an 'almost shy' person.