Two German ex-soldiers wanted to intervene in the civil war in Yemen with their own group of mercenaries. Their goal: a lot of money, paid for from the Saudi Arabian treasury. Both men are now on trial.

Two ex-soldiers in the Bundeswehr are said to have planned to build up a 150-strong mercenary force to get involved in the civil war in distant Yemen.

Because the two Germans would have founded a terrorist organization, if their plan had worked, they have to answer before the Higher Regional Court in Stuttgart this Thursday (09:00). The men were arrested in the Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald district and in Munich last October. Since then they have been in custody. The trial takes place before the State Security Senate.

According to the investigation, the two men are said to have decided in early 2021 to put a mercenary force under their command – also supported by “messages from a fortune teller”, which they understood as “binding instructions”, as the federal prosecutor explained in the run-up to the trial. They had even agreed on the amount of the monthly salary of around 40,000 euros for each member. Your paramilitary unit should therefore consist of 100 to 150 men, mainly former members of the Bundeswehr or former police officers. One of the two men who are now sitting in the dock in the Stammheim High Security Court is said to have already contacted at least seven people.

When planning their deployment in Yemen, the men were aware “that the unit to be commanded by them would inevitably have to carry out acts of death during their deployment,” the federal prosecutor said. In addition, they had expected “that civilians would also be killed and injured in connection with combat operations”.

The military counter-intelligence service (MAD) came up with the first trail of the two. He passed the information on to civil investigative authorities.

Ex-soldiers sought funding from Saudi Arabia

From the point of view of the federal prosecutor, the men and their group of mercenaries wanted to force peace negotiations between the so-called Houthi rebels and the Yemeni government, which is supported by Saudi Arabia, in the civil war there. According to the alleged plans of the accused, the project should preferably be financed by Saudi Arabia. One of the accused is said to have tried persistently but unsuccessfully to contact government agencies in Saudi Arabia.

According to information from the German Press Agency, the former regular soldiers had already left the Bundeswehr in 1983 and 1999.

Yemen’s civil war has been raging since 2014, when Iran-backed Houthi rebels seized the capital, Sanaa, forcing the internationally recognized government to flee. The following year, a Saudi-led coalition joined the government in what has now become one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.