The German intelligence services have been aware since 2016 of attempts by Islamist extremist groups to penetrate the country’s security and defence institutions to gain expertise, training, and even weapons and explosives.
The Federal Office of Internal Intelligence has introduced strict criteria for the surveillance of people and groups with terrorist ambitions.
The authorities say the number of Islamist extremists in Germany is still steadily rising, with numbers now around 10,000, compared to 8,600 last year.
Jihadi groups in Germany
● The Milli Gorush Group: founded by the Turkish Islamist Najmuddin Arbakan in the 1960s, this is the largest Islamist organisation in Germany.
● Islamic Sharia Group: said to include up to 100 armed Chechens this group seeks to establish a radical Islamic community within German society.
● The Right Religion Group: a Salafist jihadi group that supports ISIS, active in Cologne.
● The Salafist Islamic Activist: founded by Sven La in 2010 it organises in the cities of Munster and Münchengladbach in North Westphalia Rhine. It is active as an alternative to the banned "Call to Paradise" organisation.
● Call to Paradise: led by Pierre Vogel in Frechen on the outskirts of Cologne, this group was banned for inciting hatred.
● The advocates of Al-Asir: a Salafist organisation active in German prisons, most of whose members belong to jihadi groups serving prison sentences in Germany.
● The Abu Walaa Network: its founder is Ahmed Abdul Aziz Abdullah, based in Dortmund. A centre for the recruitment of supporters of ISIS all over Germany who want to fight in Syria and Iraq.
● The Lorberger Battalion: about 20 young men from the Lorberger area of Denslaken who went to fight in Syria,
● Wolfsburg Cell: enabled about 20 Germans to travel in 2013 and 2014 from Wolfsburg to Iraq and Syria to join ISIS.
Hans-Georg Messen, head of the German Constitutional Protection Commission, said Salafism in Germany a few years ago was linked to a few people such as Pierre Fogel, Sven Lao or Ibrahim Abu Naji, and their names are barely mentioned now. “The change at the present time is often in the emergence of individual people who gather around their followers. So, it's no longer possible to talk about a Salafi scene but about many hot spots," he said.
The role of jihadis in supporting ISIS
● Advising and guiding young people towards the radical ideas of ISIS
● Putting ads on social networking sites to fund ISIS under the pretext of donations to refugees
● Invitations to participate in armed jihad and jihad throughout the world
● Helping individuals carry out attacks in the heart of Germany
● Conducting online talks with ISIS about coordinating plans to launch attacks on private premises inside Germany
● Recruiting German children, girls and young people by convincing them that if they become martyrs, they will have achieved "maximum success" in life
● Spying on the security services and the German intelligence services
● Holding Salafi conferences attended by thousands of Salafists from all over Europe to support the adoption of the ideas of ISIS
● Coordinating the travel of young extremists with forged passports to fight in Syria and Iraq
● Visiting prisoners to promote the ideas of ISIS
A German official from the Centre for the Suppression of Extremism in the city of Nuremberg told the German news agency in October 2017 that the average age of those travelling to Syria and Iraq had dropped from twenty to eighteen. "It has been recently observed that the cases of extremism among Muslim girls has increased from 15% to about 30%," he added.
The number of foreign fighters from Germany with ISIS
According to the Constitutional Protection Committee in 2018:
The number of those who left Germany to fight in the ranks of ISIS in Iraq and Syria reached about 960.
● Almost one-third of them returned to Germany
● 145 were killed in combat
A study by the Centre for Information and the Federal Centre for the fight against Extremism and Crime in Hessen, and the Office of National Security showed:
● Foreign fighters associated with terrorist organisations are between 13 and 62 years old
● 61% of foreign fighters were born in Germany
● 39% have Turkish, Syrian, Russian or Lebanese origins
● 27% of them are dual nationals, including German-Tunisian, German-Moroccan or Turkish-German
● 10% returned from conflict areas due to frustration or disillusion
● 25% of returnees showed willingness to cooperate with the German security authorities