Two weeks ago the National Police carried out ‘Operation Ario’ and arrested 7 people related to a far-right group. A group with members in Alicante, Barcelona and Madrid that was dedicated, above all, to spreading Nazi and fascist propaganda and, in some cases, to storing knives and firearms. The documentation of the case, to which elDiario.es has had access, indicates that some of its members had planned to make the leap to violence although, according to the summary, they did not have operational capacity: “For next year we plan initiate armed violence in the streets,” said one of them. In the registers Lists with car license plates that the ringleader attributed to Catalan pro-independence politicians and also with names of representatives of PSOE, Podemos and different members of the Prosecutor’s Office were intervened. And a manual for making homemade explosives.
A young man suffers a fascist attack in Valencia for wearing the slogan ‘Working Class’ on his clothes
The investigation began in March 2020, when the National Police received an anonymous complaint alerting to the existence of a WhatsApp group with more than 100 people called “NacionalDemocrata”. A group in which several defendants participated and in which far-right slurs were continuously launched is José RM, self-proclaimed leader of the self-proclaimed National Democratic Party. A formation that is not registered as a political party but that, according to what its leader told the National Police, has around thirty followers throughout the country and whose name is not entirely unknown in the Alicante town of Alcoi, although it does not have any kind of of structure.
On October 11, 2021, the headquarters of the LGTBi collective ‘Ponts d’Igualtat’ woke up with a burnt Spanish flag, signs of burns on the facade and a piece of paper on the floor: the Hitlerian imperial eagle carrying the yoke and Falangist arrows instead of the swastika with the name of the National Democratic Party and a message in capital letters. “Against separatism and its accomplices,” he said. In his statement to the police, this detainee claimed to have placed that propaganda, to have participated in an attack on a man together with Espanyol ultras and even to have painted fascist and Nazi graffiti at the headquarters of Podemos in Alcoi. The party has never denounced an attack of these characteristics at its headquarters in Alcoi, but it has in another in the province of Alicante, such as elche.
This 56-year-old man, arrested in 2000 in the Barcelona metro for a robbery, is considered by the National Police to be the driving force behind this group which, in addition to spreading Nazi and racist propaganda on various social networks and blogs, was preparing for something else. In a conversation intervened by the investigators last November, for example, this far-rightist spoke with an unidentified third person: “For next year we plan to start armed violence in the streets,” he says, adding that “a rifle sniper would be missing”. His interlocutor, unidentified for now, gives him many possibilities: “The weapons… we design and manufacture them. I am an industrial engineer and I have experience in computer design and several of my comrades-in-arms are experts in chemistry.” The sniper idea sounds good to him: “We have assault rifles, submachine guns, pistols, and large amounts of explosives… The rifle with a silencer and a range of 2,000 meters.”
There is no record of any preparation on their part for these alleged attacks and the summary does not show that, for example, they saw each other in person or had group conversations for this reason. But this detainee was not the only one who left in writing his intention to perpetrate violent actions, according to the content of the report. Another investigated, JVGR, affirms that “we will have to ask for help from the skinheads” when in October an unidentified third person affirms that “we must start watering the streets of Spain with Moorish blood”.
A former candidate from the Catalan far right, Modesto RP, also participated in these chats, who sometimes spoke of putting up posters but sometimes spoke of violence: “You have to take these dog (sic) Moors and the hate prosecutor,” he said for example on one occasion. This is the detainee in whose house was seized, among other things, a manual for making homemade explosives that investigators are now examining to find out its scope.
One of the interlocutors of these prominent members of the group was, according to the National Police, a far-rightist known in Spain and France. Lionel RG also participated in these chats, and the report shows how the French Anti-Terrorist Subdirectorate warned of his links via the internet with a person arrested in that country for praising the Norwegian far-right terrorist Anders Breivik, author of the Utoya massacre in 2011 These last two members of the group had gone one step further and, according to the Police, were “surveillance to commit some type of action that carried risks, possibly of a violent nature.”
The report does not include the result or content of these surveillances, but it does include what the agents found at José RM’s house in Alcoi: lists of license plates of vehicles that, according to the Police, “belong to alleged Catalan independence fighters” as well as a list “with names of members of United We Can and the Socialist Party” who, according to the investigators, could be targets. “They suggest that they were in the process of setting personal operational objectives that could be the focus of some direct action against them,” says the statement. He himself recognized in court that they were vehicle license plates of Catalan politicians, but not from the current moment but from the time in which he lived in Barcelona.
Arms, politicians and prosecutors
In his police statements – which will have to be ratified or not in court – one of the defendants pointed to another and assured that this WhatsApp group with more than 100 people was not just there to release far-right slurs. “He organized trips to travel to Barcelona, with the intention of attacking people with an independentist court, motivated by his hatred towards them or towards people with left-wing ideology,” the report states.
Among the list of names that the Police considers as possible targets of the group, there are not only independentistas and politicians from PSOE and Podemos. There are also prosecutors in a list found in the house of another detainee: María Teresa Verdugo (prosecutor delegate for hate crimes in Malaga), José Javier Polo (prosecutor at the National Court until he recently became a lawyer) or Jacobo Fernández (prosecutor computer crime in Malaga). Along with them there are others not related to politics or the Public Ministry and the report does not explain if the investigators have collected more evidence that allows them to deduce if they had put some type of preparation in motion.
The agents themselves explain in the statement that the group has been dismantled in a very embryonic phase: “We want to highlight the importance of early intervention that has led to the dismantling of this group,” says the statement. But this rapid intervention of the Police, say the investigators, does not imply that they have not found evidence in the house searches that point in the direction of the violence. “It is not at all ruled out that the continuity of their activities could have crystallized into specific attack actions on a personal level,” the agents say. The researchers, for now, do not attribute to them sufficient operational capacity to carry out an attack of these characteristics, but there are worrying signs.
They say this because along with the lists of names and the alleged surveillance, the agents found weapons in some homes. At the house of Modesto RP in Barcelona, for example, a revolver “in perfect working order”, ammunition for a 22 caliber pistol and an “explosives manufacturing manual”. The images released by the National Police after the outbreak of ‘Operation Ario’ reflect not only Nazi symbols and various bladed weapons, but also a black notebook called “Manual of homemade explosives.”
There are more detainees, accused of participating in the dissemination of Nazi propaganda through social networks in possible hate crimes, including an elderly couple from Barcelona. A resident of Torrejón de Ardoz has also been charged with allegedly receiving and distributing propaganda from this National Democratic Party, and the Police speculate with his presence at one of the rallies and acts of harassment staged in front of the home of Pablo Iglesias and Irene Montero in Galapagos last year.