Islamic State militants have ‘lured 550 Germans into fighting’
BERLIN: The number of Germans fighting alongside
Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq has increased sharply to 550 and
around 180 have returned, the head of Germany’s domestic intelligence said in a
newspaper interview published on Sunday.
“We are concerned about the high number of departures.
Especially in the last six weeks, it has risen further,” Hans-Georg Maassen told
Welt am Sonntag. “By now we are counting 550 people, that is how many have left
Germany to go to Syria and Iraq,” he added. The previous number was 450 people.
Around 60 of them have been killed during fighting,
with at least nine killing themselves in suicide attacks, Maassen said. “That
is a sad success for the Islamist propaganda.”
As with other Western European countries, Germany is
struggling to stop the radicalization of young Muslims, some of whom want to
become jihadists in Syria or Iraq. Officials also worry that they might return
to plot attacks on home soil.
Since Germany is part of the alliance fighting Islamic
State, the country is "naturally" a target for the militants as well
as al Qaeda members, Maassen said.
Intelligence services estimate that around 180
jihadists have returned to Germany after having fought in Syria and Iraq,
In one of the largest sweeps against alleged Islamists
in Germany yet, authorities last week arrested nine men suspected of supporting
militant groups in Syria and raided numerous properties in several German