Paramilitary groups - a growing threat aimed by the Security Information Service

Paramilitary groups - a growing threat aimed by the Security Information Service
05 / 09 / 2018, 11:00

The Security Information Service (Bezpečnostní informační služba, BIS) warns of the growing threat by “paramilitary groups.” According to the Service the number of members of such groups rises and actually reaches about 2,000. The risks are considered important especially through attempts to forge ties with state and other public security organizations, national and local police officers.

The Security Information Service (BIS) is a civil intelligence agency which reports to the Government of the Czech Republic. Under Section 2 of Act No. 153/1994 Coll., BIS is a state agency for the acquisition,  collection  and  evaluation  of  information important for protecting the constitutional order, major economic interests, and the security and defense of the Czech Republic. To fulfill its tasks, and based on agreements concluded between the intelligence services with the consent of the Government, the BIS is authorized to cooperate with other intelligence services of the Czech Republic. The Service has the status of an armed security corps, and its officials are employed under a contract of service. They are entitled to hold and carry a service fire-arm and to use it for reasonable defense or in a situation of extreme distress: within the same legal frame as any other citizen.

The Service reports on its findings to the Government, Prime Minister and ministers, and to the President of the Czech Republic. It is strictly apolitical and has no repressive powers: it cannot detain, arrest or interrogate suspects. In its activities it is required by the law to consistently respect human rights and freedoms. In spite of the secret nature of the work, which is necessary to fulfill its tasks, the BIS is an intelligence service of a democratic state and is funded through taxation. Therefore, taxpayers have the right to know the results of the work, and annual reports are published.

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The last report, published in october 2017 sums up the situation of 2016. New report is expected within a few weeks. Within the report, the BIS mentions the “non-state paramilitarism” in the chapter 2.4. “Protection of the Constitutionality and of the Democratic Foundations of the Czech Republic” together with the “Anti-immigration and anti-Muslim activities”, “Right-wing extremism” and “Left-wing extremism.”

On the paramilitary groups in 2016 the BIS said: “Forming of various paramilitary and street patrol groups continued in connection with the migration crisis. The goal of these groups was to be prepared to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the Czech Republic and monitor security situation in the streets. They tried to create the impression that Czech security forces are not capable of handling the situation and protect the Czech Republic and its citizens. However, their activities did not pose a specific threat to the security and democratic foundations of the Czech Republic. They also did not use violence.” The Service said also that the the topic of migration grew weaker in 2016 (compared to the migrant waves of 2015) and the groupes involved were loosing strenght and relative attractivity for the general public. It also said the members were of various ideological orientations, including not just “far-right” extremists, but fans of martial arts and shooting traning and “regular citizens, who fear for their safety and that of their families.” Strong pro-Russian attitudes and anti-Western orientation of most of the members of the paramilitary groups was also mentioned, including “aversion to the USA and international communities, like NATO or the EU.”

See also: Survey: feel of safety highly increased in the Czech republic in the past two years reported on 2nd September 2018 that the BIS and the Ministry of Interior see the paramilitary groups as a potential threat to national security as some such militia groups are attempting to forge ties with state organisations and members of the national and local police forces. The Ministry of Interior said, in its latest report on extremism in the Czech Republic, that some of these paramilitary groups are xenophobic, racist and fiercely opposed to Czech foreign policy, yetthey often try to disguise their ideological positions and promote “defence education” instead of doing open politics.

The issue is being discussed also in relation with the events in Chemnitz, Saxony, and the anti-immigration protests following the murder of Daniel Hillig. The BIS and the Ministry believe that some members of the paramilitary groups (“militias”) might want to respond actively and directly by violence or exciting violence should such situation occur in the Czech Republic too. According to the BIS the aim of these paramilitary groups (their number reaches 62) is to establish a military organization force, giving the groups a military-like hierarchy and structure.

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