German tourists mistaken for notorious 1970s terror gang
Anti-terror unit deployed in Netherlands after tip-off over Red Army Faction members
Ernst-Volker Staub and Daniela Klette: Two of the Red Army Faction terror gang believed to be hiding out in the Netherlands. To the embarrassment of police, three German tourists at a remote farmhouse turned out not to be them.
When it comes to summer holiday tales, three German tourists will be hard to beat after they were mistaken for members of the notorious 1970s terror gang the Red Army Faction (RAF) – and arrested in a military-style operation involving armed Dutch police supported by helicopters.
The three tourists – two men and a woman – were mistaken for Ernst-Volker Staub (61), Daniela Klette (57) and Burkhard Garweg (47), three RAF veterans reported to have gone into hiding in the Netherlands this summer after two cash convoy robberies and a string of supermarket heists.
The Dutch offered a reward of €80,000, and appealing for information, speculated that they might be living anonymously in a city or lying low in a rented house in some rural part of the country.
So when they were tipped off this week about three Germans, two men and a woman of around the right age, who had rented a farmhouse near the remote coastal town of Medemblik, in the north of the country, the anti-terror police believed they had their targets in sight.
The RAF – also known as the Bader-Meinhof gang – committed some 20 violent crimes and assassinations between 1984 and 1993, leaving 34 people dead and 29 seriously injured, so the police “wanted” notices for the three described them as “armed and dangerous”.
As a result of the tip-off, armed anti-terrorist police identified the house and the three “fugitives”, sealed off the area, warned the locals to stay out of harm’s way, and brought in helicopters for surveillance.
When two of the three emerged from the house some time later and left in a car, they were followed closely by undercover police who feared they might be about to make off.
As it turned out, they were going to the supermarket, where they were arrested.
At the same time, the third tourist was arrested while relaxing back at their house.
Predictably, it took some time before the three could convince the police of their total innocence – and their identities could be checked in Germany.
Later on Wednesday evening they were returned to their accommodation by police car and left to get on with their holiday.
A police spokesperson confirmed what had happened and said they didn’t regret the procedures used, only the fact that three innocent tourists had become embroiled in “this misunderstanding”.