First a brief explanation of the expression "Arrows of Hungarians." Before the Magyars settled down and adopted Christianity, armed groups under different chieftains attacked western and southern European regions for the express purpose of plunder. Hungarian historians politely christened these looting expeditions "adventures." According to common belief these "adventures" became so feared by western Europeans that they prayed "A sagittis Hungarorum libera nos, Domine!" In English: "Oh Lord, save us from the arrows of Hungarians!" Or, in Hungarian, "A magyarok nyilaitól ments meg, Uram, minket!" As it turned out, in this form the saying goes back only to Lajos Kossuth (1802-1894), but historians discovered another version from the tenth century in a hymn from Modena: "ab Hungerorum nos defendas iaculis." In any case, a group of Hungarian far-right terrorists (and they can be called terrorists as we will see later) decided to use Arrows of Hungarians as the name of their "liberation army."
The first time one heard of this shadowy group was in December 2007 when Sándor Csintalan, a reporter for HírTV, was savagely beaten in the garage of his condominium. Admittedly, I don't think that Csintalan is the favorite of too many people. He is a grossly overweight man with crude manners. He was born in 1954 into a poor family with communist sympathies. As a college student he was already a KISZ secretary and at the age of 23 he joined the MSZMP of János Kádár. He was a paid employee first of the communist youth movement and later of the official trade union. Typical apparatchik. In 1989-90 he drifted politically a bit by joining the Hungarian Social Democratic party but soon enough he moved over to MSZP where he became one of the vice-presidents of the party in 1994. In the spring of the same year he also became a member of parliament from one of the Budapest districts. In 1998 he was reelected but from 1999 on he was less active and in 2007 he became a member of Fidesz.
It was on December 11, 2007, that people armed with iron bars did a number on Csintalan. It is true that at the end they demanded money, but Csintalan claimed from the very first that it must have been an extreme right-wing group that was responsible. Apparently he was beaten because Csintalan on his program doubted the authenticity of a quote from Simon Peres who jokingly said something about Israelis buying up the whole of Hungary. Csintalan, who knows how to call attention to himself, made sure that several pictures were taken of him with blood pouring down his face. Picture below. Csintalan also darkly hinted that perhaps "powerful oligarchs" might be behind the beating. Allegedly these oligarchs were connected to his old party, MSZP. Csintalan was wrong: the perpetrators had nothing to do with MSZP. On December 16 HírTV received an e-mail in which the senders in the name of the Arrows of Hungarians Liberation Army took responsibility for the attack. The police investigated for months on end while new atrocities were committed against socialist parliamentary members in February 2008. Again the Arrows of Hungarians took responsibility for throwing Molotov cocktails at their houses. Luckily no one was injured. The police proudly announced that they had definite ideas about the possible suspects: "rootless, aimless, drifting youngsters." The police also seemed to know that the people who beat Csintalan and threw Molotov cocktails at the houses of socialist parliamentary members "had no connection to extreme right wing groups." Not only that, but according to the great Hungarian police such an organization as the Arrows of Hungarian Liberation Army most likely didn't even exist.
The activities of this allegedly nonexistent group continued. They sent envelopes containing a white substance to 33 socialist, liberal, and MDF parliamentary members. Even Viktor Orbán received one. The white substance turned out to be an innocuous mixture of sugar and flour. With the police investigation leading nowhere, the Hungarian National Investigating Office (Nemzeti Nyomozó Iroda/NNI) got involved, most likely realizing that the Hungarian police were entirely off track with their profile of the perpetrators as rootless, aimless youth who have anothing to do with any extremist groups.
Fidesz also joined in the fray. János Lázár, head of the parliamentary committee dealing with army and police matters, announced that either the police are totally unfit or "perhaps the highest government circles are behind the perpetrators." Such outrageous accusations seem to be daily fare in Hungarian politics nowadays.
Meanwhile more than a year went by and the investigation seemed stalled. Finally, on April 9, 2009, the NNI released stunning news: they found a "bomb factory" in Pest County and arrested four people in connection with it. Apparently they found three bombs and several guns. According to the media report it was in the nick of time that they were caught because the group planned to set off the bombs within a few hours. As it turned out they even had their first victim selected: László Ecsödi, a socialist member of parliament. Ecsödi is not a prominent member of parliament or the party. Moreover, he is locally popular; ever since 1994 he has been elected in his district with sizable majorities. I don't know why they picked him. He himself has no idea either. One bomb the NNI found was apparently as powerful as the one used to blow up a bus in London in June 2005.
On April 30 Magyar Nemzet reported that according to their information György Budaházy was in touch with the owners of the bomb factory. Budaházy is one of the most vicious extremists in Hungary about whom I wrote several times. (Readers can now search this blog using Google–upper left-hand column). The most detailed description of Budaházy's career can be found in the February 1, 2008, blog entitled Budaházy and his friends.
Magyar Nemzet is not known for its accuracy, but in this case the information seemed to be correct. Today the NNI arrested Budaházy, charging him with terrorist activity and the intent to assassinate two people. Although neither the NNI nor the police revealed any details, most likely the detectives found some link between Budaházy and the Arrows of Hungarians. At least the police didn't deny such a supposition. If the charge sticks, Budaházy might receive ten to fifteen years. However, if the Hungarian courts do such a smashing job as they did the last time when Budaházy simply had to pay a 40,000 forint fine, he will not spend a minute in jail. But let's hope that Hungarian judges realize that there is a serious extreme right-wing danger in Hungary. These people are not joking. It is time to act and quickly. Not six years later as happened in Budaházy's case.