Czech police thwart plan by left wing radicals to blow up a train

Illustrative photo: Kristýna Maková

It has emerged that Czech police last week thwarted a planned attack on a train carrying military equipment from Prague to west Bohemia. The plot to blow up the train, one of a number of attacks hatched by left-wing radicals, allegedly came dangerously close to completion. Three men now face life sentences on charges of terrorism. I asked security expert Andor Šandor about the state of left-wing extremism in the country and how serious a threat it presents.

Andor Šandor,  photo: Šárka Ševčíková
“To some extent this is surprising news, because if you look back at past reports issued by the civilian counter intelligence service these reports suggest that left-wing extremism was, do a certain degree, frozen. They did not plan or engage in activities that should have been monitored by the state authorities. But in view of what has now been revealed we can see that the situation is much more dangerous, these plans were serious and that if they had been successful many targets in this country would have been hit and we would have suffered serious damage.”

We tend to hear a lot about right-wing extremism, but not much about the country’s left-wing radicals. Who are they and what do we know about their activities?

“These people are not happy with the way of life in this country, they are not happy with the political situation, they are not happy with the general orientation of the country, but frankly, based on the information that is available now it is premature to say what kind of people they are and what their aims are. We will have to wait for the police to conclude the investigation and for the court to bring them to justice. Only then can we talk about what was behind this and to what group or environment the six apprehended - three of whom are in jail – belonged. We will see if they were just an isolated group of people or part of a broader network of radicals that are not happy with the way of life in this country.”

Would you say that the Czech Republic has now reached a stage where fear of terrorist acts is justified?

Illustrative photo: Kristýna Maková
“Absolutely. I have been speaking about it for a long time – that it is not a question of IF but WHEN something will happen. The Ministry of Interior must really get to work on the issue and the state should do more to be able to better monitor radicalism in this country than has been done previously. It’s a matter of money, it is a matter of making a political decision to allocate that money so that the police can guarantee –to some extent, though not entirely – that they will be able to deal with radicalism and the threat of terrorist attacks on different targets in our country. So far we have just heard about these things and watched them on television. Now the threat is here, in the country. And to me it makes no difference whether these are Islamists or Czechs. What matters is the fact that targets on our territory can be hit with serious consequences for the public.”