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12 Dec, 2015 17:22

German spy chief warns of 1,000+ radical Islamists ready to attack

Germany is increasingly vulnerable to security threats from the overwhelming refugee influx, new figures show. German security services say over 1,000 Islamists could commit “serious crimes,” and many Germans feel their country is now unsafe.

Around 1,100 radical Islam supporters in Germany are potentially ready to conduct attacks, the head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Hans-Georg Maassen told MDR radio on Friday. At least 430 of those Islamists are so dangerous that "a serious crime can be expected from them at any moment."

The head of Germany’s domestic intelligence service also stressed that taking any pre-emptive measures would be extremely complicated because the radicals outnumber available law enforcement staff. It “takes a lot of people, many of them to track just one,” Maassen said, while it’s impossible to “survey all of them at the same time 24 hours and 7 days a week."

The security chief also warned the number of Salafis who reside in Germany is increasing. “In Germany there are currently around 8,350 Salafis, their numbers have rapidly grown over the past months,” he said, as cited by the Mittelbayerische Zeitung on Friday, adding, “there were 7,900 of them in September.”

Maassen also told the newspaper that domestic intelligence had spotted at least 150 attempts by Salafis to enlist recruits in refugee hostels across Germany.

The security service chief said his agency is questioning migrants arriving in Germany, to collect information about their fellow travelers who might be planning attacks.

Professor of International Relations at the University of Goettingen, Peter Schulze, however believes that while authorities say are they doing everything necessary to cope with the terror threat, the reality is different.

“A huge number of unknown refugees are coming to Germany,” he told RT. “Nobody knows who are they and where they come from.”

“You can’t control millions of people,” Schulze said, adding that the German government “refused to link the high threat level with the number of refugees.”

Even though many of them have no links to terrorist organizations from abroad, “they can become radicalized if they cannot integrate successfully into German society,” the professor said. 

Recent figures suggest more and more Germans believe the overwhelming influx of refugees adds to the risk of terror attacks that might take place in Germany. Fifty-four percent of Germans answered “Yes” to the question: “Do you have concerns the terror threat is rising because of refugees,” according to a study by TNS Forschung completed for Spiegel.

This perception is shared not only by the nationalist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party – 78 percent of its supporters answered “Yes” - but also by left-wing voters such as those of Die Linke and Social Democrats with 57 percent and 49 percent answering in the affirmative respectively.  

The same poll suggests 42 percent of Germans think Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to accept refugees in such overwhelming numbers is wrong.

READ MORE: Germany fears up to 1.5mn refugees to arrive in 2015, calls for limits on influx to EU

In September, Chancellor Merkel announced the government’s decision to allow thousands of refugees stranded in Hungary into Germany, saying that the country’s basic right to asylum has no upper limits. Over the last months, the number of refugees and asylum seekers has risen dramatically, with over 1.5 million people expected to arrive in Germany by the end of 2015. In October, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the daily influx into the country has soared to up to 10,000 people, according to the Bild newspaper.

While the government tries to tackle the problem, German society is becoming increasingly polarized, with considerable numbers of right-wingers among those protesting Merkel’s “open door” policy.