In November 2011, in the small town of Eisenach (Thuringia) a coincidence and failed bank robbery led the German police to a caravan in which they hoped to find the suspected robbers. The subsequent events would change the nationwide security infrastructure, shatter the public trust in the authorities and lead to the retirement of numerous high-ranking government officials. Shortly before their apprehension, the two suspects committed suicide after a short shoot-out with the police. Quickly afterwards the vehicle burned down. When police and firefighters searched the debris, they found large amounts of money and – more interestingly – an extensive armory including two guns belonging to a police officer assassinated in 2007 and her severely wounded colleague. About three hours later, another event in the town of Zwickau (Saxony) – 180 kilometers away – caused the following national crisis. After an explosion had occurred in an apartment building and the police searched the site, additional weapons and money were found, including the murder weapon of a so-far unsolved killing spree which had cost nine victims their lives between 2000 and 2006. While searching for the woman officially registered in the apartment, numerous DVD videos from a group calling itself the National Socialist Underground (NSU) were received via mail by political, religious, cultural and press institutions. The video contained graphic images of the killings and additional explosive attacks blended in with a Pink Panther cartoon. Four days after the explosion, the missing woman – later revealed as Beate Zschäpe – turned herself in. As the German authorities started to put the pieces together, they recognized that they had discovered the underground cell of at least three wanted neoNazis that had gone clandestine in the late 1990s. In the following investigations, the public shock quickly turned into massive critique against the security agencies – most notably the criminal police and intelligence – for having failed to detect this terrorist cell for over a decade. In addition, the mishandling of information requests from politicians and journalists – for example, the destruction of files after being requested – created a further loss of trust in the agencies. During the investigations that followed, more and more details about the blatant lack of cooperation, the involvement of paid informants, racism within the police forces and the farreaching incompetence regarding analytical resources in the field of right-wing terrorism were uncovered. In addition, a wide national support network of the NSU cell showed that the cell was not operating in complete isolation but in fact

remained in active exchange with the wider ‘movement.’ All in all the NSU caused the most severe crisis of the German internal security system after the Second World War – a process called by the Federal Prosecutor General Harald Range Germany’s “September 11” in March 2012 (FAZ 2012). By now a total of ten assassinations, three bomb attacks and fourteen bank robberies between 1998 and 2011 were attributed to the NSU and the trial in Munich against the last surviving member – Beate Zschäpe – and the four most important supporters is already the most extensive terror trail in post-Second World War Germany. The failure of authorities on all levels, including the suspicion of a right-wing background behind the murders, still remains a heatedly debated topic and object of numerous parliamentary inquiry commissions. In the same year as the NSU’s discovery, the mass shooting and explosive attacks carried out by Anders Behring Breivik in Oslo and Utøya left seventyseven people dead and caused a national trauma in Norway. These two events partially reignited academic debates about the nature and risk posed by rightwing terrorism and political violence. Especially the case of Breivik fitted well into the ‘lone wolf ’ or ‘lone actor’ theories in terrorism research and consequently the NSU did not receive similar attention by the international academia, which seems striking since the group was one of the most successful terrorist groups in history with regard to the time-span that it was active without being detected. Also, the large amount of information available about the group’s radicalization process, their tactics and support structures is unparalleled. Even more important, it seems, is the fact that the NSU case gives terrorism researchers and policy makers a rare and detailed account of how a modern Western internal security architecture could be bypassed by untrained extremists. However tragic and shocking, the NSU was neither the first right-wing terrorist organization in post-Second World War Germany nor the last one. Since the late 1960s, groups of different size but always with a strong neo-Nazi background committed numerous acts of terrorism; the most severe was in 1980 with the bombing of the Munich Oktoberfest, killing thirteen people. International research and German authorities have for the most part not focused on the terrorist threat from the Far-Right and – especially after the 9/11 attacks – but instead concentrated on al-Qaeda inspired or jihadi terrorism. Subsequent attacks, such as the 2004 bombing in Madrid, the 7/7 bombings 2005 in London, the 2010 attack in Stockholm and of course the Paris Charlie Hebdo attack in 2015, have reinforced the perception that much greater threat to Western security comes from these jihadi groups amongst researchers, the general public and policy makers. Only sporadically have researchers warned against the risks of this misconception. In June 2015, for example, Professor of Sociology Charles Kurzman from the University of North Carolina, writing in the New York Times, attempted to show a bigger domestic terrorist threat from the Extreme Right in the United States compared with all other forms of extremist violence (Kurzman & Schanzer 2015). Only one day later, a right-wing terrorist attack was carried out in Charleston (South Carolina) by a twenty-one-year-old lone actor killing nine victims in a racially motivated mass shooting (Robles, Horowitz & Dewan 2015).