Intel chief: German extremists disbanding is 'smoke screen'

BERLIN (AP) — The head of one of Germany's state security agencies has accused an extremist faction within the country's main far-right party of trying to create a “smoke screen” by announcing it will disband.

Leaders of the far-right Alternative for Germany had called last week for the radical ‘Wing’ faction of the party to dissolve after the country's domestic intelligence agency classified it as extremist.

The Wing's leading figures, Bjoern Hoecke and Andreas Kalbitz, agreed Tuesday to disband the faction.

But the head of the domestic intelligence agency in Thuringia state, where Hoecke is the party's regional leader, said this appeared to be a tactical maneuver.

Stephan Kramer told German news agency dpa in an interview published Wednesday the move was “a smoke screen," adding that it was more important to see whether the party distances itself from the extremist faction.

Alternative for Germany currently has seats in all German state assemblies and the federal parliament. It is strongest in the east.