Monday, March 27

The ultras of the Ario operation: incendiary chats, approaches to Vox and a lot of hate

The seven people detained by the National Police in the Ario operation do not have the usual profile of radicalized groups preparing an attack, although some did not skimp on words when verbalizing their violent desires. Two of the defendants are an elderly couple from Barcelona who posted racist messages on Twitter and on various blogs, while three others arrested stated without qualification that their desire was to shed blood, although they doubted whether they had the capacity to do so. One of them had various weapons and a manual for making homemade explosives in his house.

The National Police detains the author of an attack on a local LGTBI in Alcoi

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The documentation to which has had access also shows that the leader of the group, a resident of Alcoi, tried to approach Vox without much success, at least based on the evidence in the possession of the investigators. On January 25, the National Police broke into the house of the alleged leader of the Nazi group based in Alcoi (Alicante) to look for evidence of his activity. The agents, by order of court number 3 of the city, had been monitoring their movements and conversations for months to be attentive to any sign of continuity to the threat that they had launched on WhatsApp a few months earlier: “For next year we plan to start the violence armed in the streets.” Before beginning the search, the accused JARM asked the agents to call “David”, because he would provide him with a lawyer for his defense, he gave them the telephone number.

That “David”, as recorded in the case proceedings, is David Abad, the only Vox councilor in Alcoi, who refused to have anything to do with him and did not give him the help he asked for and the arrested man was attended by a lawyer from job. From the party in Alicante they clarify to that the detainee did not have any type of relationship with Vox, neither by belonging nor by collaboration, and that the relationship of this arrested person with the mayor was personal and sporadic. David Abad, 48-year-old from Alcoywas the head of the Vox list in Alcoi in the municipal elections, when the far-right formation obtained a seat in the plenary hall with almost 1,600 votes in seventh position in the first electoral participation of the party in the town.

According to the case, the Vox councilor in Alcoi and the alleged leader of the Nazi group investigated in the Ario operation knew each other, although there is no evidence that he participated in their investigated activities or that they had a close relationship or have addressed no investigation against him. The National Police recorded a first conversation that they supposedly had by phone in April 2021, when the leader of the group and the mayor and spokesperson for Vox met in a cafeteria in Plaça Espanya, a few meters from his office in the town hall.

The reason for the appointment, as the agents verified, a priori had nothing to do with the extreme right-wing and violent group they were investigating. The accused now arrived at the cafeteria with two people unknown to the agents who, according to those attending the meeting, were “members of the dissidence of the Venezuelan regime headed by Nicolás Maduro.” The defendant commented on the political situation in Spain and Venezuela without the agents registering anything of interest in this meeting nor the intervention of the mayor.

There are no records of more meetings or conversations intervened by the National Police in the framework of this investigation, nor that the court showed greater interest in the relationship of the alleged leader of the Nazi group with the far-right deputy. Until nine months later JARM was arrested and in the search of his house in Alcoi he asked that the agents call the councilman so that he could assign him a lawyer and be able to defend himself against him. First he did not pick up the phone and when the agents found him, he assured that “he does not know the detainee and that consequently he is not going to recommend any lawyer for anyone.” At that time, a court-appointed lawyer was assigned to him and the search continued.

The police documents of the summary reveal that Abad’s was not the only contact of this extreme right-winger with Santiago Abascal’s party, without this having translated into any type of accusation or line of investigation. He shared WhatsApp groups with some members of the party, as the summary reveals, and also had conversations with a woman who has been a Vox candidate several times in Barcelona and Catalonia in the 2019 general electionthe municipal of that year and the regional of 2021, although he has never obtained representation by going in the lower positions of the list and even as a substitute.

Those conversations in which the Police do not identify the interlocutor but the ownership of the telephone show that this defendant shared WhatsApp groups, sometimes managed by him, with some Vox militants or sympathizers in addition to other people. Also that he visited the Vox headquarters in Barcelona along with another defendant last year.

Blogs, Twitter and chats

Few members of the group got to see each other in person, unless the National Police were able to detect them in their investigations, but they had several digital meeting points. Most participated in the ‘NacionalDemocrata’ WhatsApp chat where extreme right-wing slurs were poured out, but they also did so on blogs and other social networks. The leader of the group, for example, then ran a blog where he spread Nazi writings, and several defendants had Twitter accounts in which they did the same.

According to the Police, it was part of a phase that a report defines as “digital activism” made up of several stages: dissemination of hate, radicalization, indoctrination and later recruitment of the social mass. The researchers explain that behind these plans one can find, they speculate, “the actions of groups with a modus operandi similar to the one investigated in these proceedings, especially police and judicial prevention being the main factor that would justify not carrying out the Spain of similar acts, dismantling similar Criminal Groups in their embryonic state”.

The biggest concern of the investigators is in the detainees who seemed willing to go beyond the internet, although there is still a long investigation ahead. In the house of one of them, the police found a manual for making explosives as well as a revolver in perfect condition and that had been fired recently. “I want volunteers with balls,” he said in a conversation with an interlocutor. “I want heads cut off,” he also said in the ‘NacionalDemocrata’ chat in October last year.

Demonstration in Barcelona

This is not the only occasion in which the investigators detected a rapprochement between the accused, who kept in his house lists with names of members of PSOE and United We Can and old and supposed license plates of pro-independence politicians, and the party of Santiago Abascal, although did not belong to it and did not collaborate with them. On October 13, 2021, the agents detected and reflected a “visit to the Vox headquarters” in Barcelona at half past five in the afternoon accompanied by another defendant, although they do not reflect what he was doing there or whether he met with someone or he just walked past the headquarters. What does appear in other points of the summary is the reason why he was in Barcelona.

The main report of the case shows how the day before, on October 12, 2021, the leader of the self-proclaimed National Democratic Party – with no registration or known affiliates – attended the traditional far-right demonstration that different fascist and Nazi parties called in the city. That day, according to police surveillance, he was physically with Lionel GR, another of those investigated, one of the few real meetings between the members of the alleged group collected by the investigators. A member of the group who, according to the investigations, had contact with the French extreme right and who claimed to have carried out “surveillance” with another of the group’s members in the Catalan capital. He was also, at the time, a representative of the “Nosotros” party, a formation led by former PP councilor in Palafolls (Barcelona) Óscar Bermán.

On October 12, the extreme right convened a demonstration in Montjüic like every year on the national holiday of October 12 with the presence of ultra parties such as Democracia Nacional, convener of the event, and with different flags and extreme right symbols. Previously, in the morning, Vox had staged a floral offering with other groups at the statue of Columbus located in the port of Barcelona. A day later, the leader of the group went to the Vox headquarters, although the investigators do not specify if he entered or if he simply stood at the door. He had arranged with Lionel GR to go there, although what they did at the headquarters is not recorded.

The social networks of the main accused reflect that he addressed several public messages to different leaders of Vox, and to the party itself, which at least publicly did not receive a response. “Is there a problem if we collaborate with Vox Alicante and Alcoy?” He asked in 2018 while then claiming to represent a formation that, like the National Democratic Party, does not exist as such either. He even asked a journalist for the address of the Vox headquarters in Alcoi without receiving an answer either.

The profiles of different defendants in different social networks analyzed by the researchers reveal a conflictive and even contradictory ideological relationship between this group of far-rightists and Santiago Abascal’s party. Many of them harshly criticized Vox for a time for its position on Israel and others called for joining the party and then harshly criticized its proximity to the PP.