A bizarre terror trial against two former Bundeswehr soldiers begins in Stuttgart on Thursday. They are said to have tried to set up a mercenary force for Yemen. According to the investigators, they were encouraged to come up with the plans by messages from a fortune teller.

According to the Federal Prosecutor’s Office, the accused Arend-Adolf G. and his partner Achim A. are said to have allowed themselves to be pushed by the messages of a fortune teller to set up a mercenary force for Yemen. They wanted to enforce peace negotiations – but also with deadly combat missions. The terror trial against the two former Bundeswehr soldiers begins on Thursday at the Stuttgart Higher Regional Court.

The 52 and 60-year-old men have been in custody since October 2021. They could be arrested before they could make any progress in building the mercenary force. The federal prosecutor accuses them of wanting to set up a terrorist organization as ringleaders. The men face up to ten years in prison.

According to the prosecution, the two men decided by early 2021 at the latest to set up a force of between 100 and 150 men. The unit should therefore consist primarily of former members of German special forces. The task was to intervene in the Yemeni civil war and to conquer and militarily secure parts of the areas controlled by the Houthi rebels.

As the federal prosecutor explained, from the perspective of the accused, this would inevitably have involved acts of killing. They would also have expected civilian losses. With their troops they still wanted to force peace negotiations. There has been war in Yemen since 2015, and a ceasefire is currently in place between government troops and Houthi rebels.

Trial in Stuttgart scheduled for November

According to the conviction of the Karlsruhe investigative authority, the plans of G. and A. were supported by the messages of a fortune teller. Both men understood these as binding instructions. In addition, the men had also pursued financial goals, the members of the troops should receive up to 40,000 euros a month. In the medium term, the unit should become a private military company for worldwide operations.

According to the investigators, however, the two men did not make any progress with their financial planning. A. is said to have tried persistently to establish contact with those responsible in Saudi Arabia in order to get money. However, the state authorities never responded to his inquiries. G. tried in parallel to recruit fighters. For this he had approached former or active Bundeswehr soldiers he knew.

The trial is initially scheduled to last until November. On Thursday, after the indictment has been read out, the two accused will have the opportunity to comment on the allegations. It is unclear whether they will make use of it.