On the Trail of the Pink Panther: Tracing a Right-Wing Terror Cell’s Ties Across Germany
For more than 13 years, the members of the Zwickau terror cell were believed to have disappeared. But as it turns out, they weren’t very deep in the underground at all. Indeed, they maintained numerous contacts in the right-wing extremist scene in a handful of German states.
Upon learning that her friends had died, Beate Zschäpe blew up her apartment in the city of Zwickau in the eastern state of Saxony. Then, she disappeared. At 8 a.m. the next morning, Zschäpe, suspected of being a member of a right-wing extremist terror cell, called the parents of Uwe Mundlos and the mother of Uwe Böhnhardt to inform them that their sons were dead.
The suspect’s activities on the two days that followed remain uncertain. But on Monday of last week, Zschäpe appeared at a police station in Jena and told officers, “I am the one you are looking for.” Sources have told SPIEGEL ONLINE that, prior to turning herself in, she had spent days wandering through Jena searching for an attorney. She is said to have been turned away from one law firm, which had instead pointed her in the direction of a criminal law expert who then took her on as a client. The first law firm, however, denies having had any contact with Zschäpe.
Zschäpe’s Nov. 8 appearance at the Jena police station marked the end of more than a dozen years of living underground. But where did she and her apparent co-conspirators Mundlow and Böhnhardt spend those years after disappearing in 1998? There are numerous indications that the trio — who are the prime suspects in the slayings of nine men in Germany of mostly Turkish origin as well as a policewoman — had plenty of help. And that, while the trio may have used Zwickau as their base for many years, they had connections in several other parts of the country.