There is a growing trend among young Muslim German men to become jihadi fighters, Germany’s Deutche Welle news agency (DW) reported on Monday.
According to German security services, since the beginning of the 1990s, around 235 “people with German connections and Islamic terrorist backgrounds” have at least attempted to acquire paramilitary training.
There is tangible evidence that around 100 men were actually trained or engaged in military operations. Over half of those are said to be back in Germany, and around 10 have been imprisoned.
“Should they return [to Germany], these people could be involved in activity which poses a threat to national security,” a spokesperson for the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution was quoted by DW as saying.
Members of the so-called Sauerland Group attended a training camp in Pakistan before they were arrested while making preparations for attacks on U.S. facilities in Germany.
“Another risk factor is that these people have big reputations in the Islamist scene,” said the spokesperson. “That can lead to the further radicalization of Islamists who until now weren’t necessarily prepared to engage in violent conflict.”
To stop “jihadi tourism,” Germany has made attending terrorist training camps a criminal offense since 2009. However, Wolf Schmidt, author of “Young, German, Taliban” says that repression alone won’t solve the problem. “You must to be one step ahead, and you need a clever form of prevention,” he asserted.
“They don’t know the war zone, have relatively little idea about the conflict, and often have shockingly little knowledge of the religion which they claim to defend,” he added.