Serving soldiers amongst suspects
Last Thursday, after a raid by the Belgian police, 17 activists from the Neo-Nazi movement, ‘Blood & Honour’, were arrested. Amongst those held were 10 Belgian army professional soldiers. The next day, two more neo-Nazis were arrested. The main suspects organised a fascist grouping inside the army, whose activities included weekend "terrorist" training camps and trading arms.
Those arrested are part of a section of Blood & Honour that go under the name, ‘Bloed Bodem Eer Trouw’ (BBET; Blood, Soil, Honour, Fidelity). There are two different groupings using the name Blood & Honour in Flanders, both linked to rival international groupings. The Blood & Honour group that was targeted by the police regularly use the name of its paper, ‘BBET’, as its public face.
Last Thursday, when police made the raids, they found over 100 high-tech weapons, including sophisticated weapons of war. On Friday, two more raids followed, in which another 100 pistols and machine guns were recovered. The police also discovered a large quantity of munitions, explosives and a sophisticated bomb. There was even a model letter claiming responsibility for terrorist attacks.
Although the Belgian police say the group did not have detailed plans to use the weaponry, one of those arrested declared publicly that the group did have the intention to strike against the state, migrants and radical left organisations. In an interview on television, this suspect said members of the security services, soldiers in the army and politicians would be involved in the planning and execution of these plans.
Ten of the nineteen arrested neo-Nazis served in the armed forces and used to train together at weekends. In the Leopoldsburg army barracks a group around suspect ‘Thomas B’ had a strong influence on soldiers. The Leopoldsburg commanders knew about the political activity of its personnel. The group of ten suspects are made up of candidate-officers, a vice-officer and eight ordinary soldiers. One of the arrested soldiers, ‘Tamara V.’, was involved in protecting the Kleine Brogel military base, where NATO has a stock of nuclear weapons. Colonel Patrick Wouters admitted that Tamara V. had access to "sensitive" areas, but he denied the existence of pictures in which Tamara V. posed in front of nuclear weapons at the base.
It is not at all excluded that this neo-Nazi group would have used its weapons to mount an attack. One of the articles in their paper praised Timothy McVeigh, calling him a "white warrior". Timothy McVeigh became known as the Oklahoma bomber, after he was convicted of blowing up US federal building, in Oklahoma City, in April 1995, in which 168 people died.
The Belgian government is trying to use these events for their own political advantage. They claim they would have been this neo-Nazi group’s main target. The uncovering and arrest of the suspects is used by mainstream politicians to polish their anti-racist and anti-fascist credentials in the run up to the 1 October local elections. The security services and the police planned the arrests for some time. Blokbuster, the anti-fascist campaign initiated by the CWI in Belgium, was contact by the media on Wednesday evening about the neo-Nazis, while the police only raided the army barracks on Thursday morning, at 11 am.
The police investigation into Blood & Honour started in 2004, after Blokbuster publicised a meeting organised in Belgium at which Robert Griffin, a US academic professor who is well known in neo-Nazi circles, spoke. At the time of the meeting, Blokbuster published a picture of the main suspect arrested last week, where he was shown posing for the camera with a cache of weapons. This information was in the public domain for two years and still no official action was taken.
While Neo-Nazi organisations such as Blood & Honour are very isolated in society, they can still be dangerous. In the past few months, Belgium has seen an increase in racist violence, including an attack in Brugge, a deadly shooting incident in Antwerp, and a violent attack against a Roma gypsy, in Tienen.
The far right party, Vlaams Belang (VB), is forced distance itself from neo-Nazis involved in violence. A large part of VB’s voters would not accept any link between the VB and groupings such as Blood & Honour. It is not sufficient, however, just to oppose violence.
We need to answer this phenomenon politically. We have to build resistance against the neo-liberal policies that strengthen racist ideas. The Establishment parties defend neo-liberal ‘logic’, blaming the working class and poor for the ills of capitalism. The lack of a mass working class party that can defend the working class, and present a political alternative to neo-liberalism and capitalism, creates a political vacuum in which racist organisations, like the Vlaams Belang, are able to grow. The VB is a far-right party that is currently the biggest political party in the Flemish party of Belgium.
Blokbuster and LSP/MAS (the CWI in Belgium), consistently link the anti-fascist struggle with the need for a political alternative. That is probably one of the reasons why the pro-Establishment media and politicians are embarrassed to credit us for providing information in the public domain that exposed the dangerous neo-Nazis in Belgium. Over the past few years, our website and paper had the best coverage of developments around the extreme right. Now the media is quoting from Blokbuster and LSP/MAS (the CWI in Belgium) resources, without mentioning or crediting us. Only the media in the Netherlands invited a Blokbuster speaker onto radio and television and some Dutch newspapers mentioned LSP/MAS, in relation to the last week’s police raids against the neo-Nazis.
We will continue to organise anti-fascist campaigns. Unlike the pro-Establishment parties, our anti-racist and anti-fascist struggle is not just words for election campaigns. We appeal to those workers and youth who are looking for a political answer to the threats of racist and fascist violence and who are looking for an alternative to the market, neo-Liberal policies that led to an increase in this violence, to join the CWI!