BERLIN: A new German intelligence report presented on Tuesday showed that Egypt had replaced Waziristan as the main centre for the training of militants.
German intelligence voiced concern over the growing number of ultra-conservative Islamic extremists in the country, some of whom are swelling militant ranks abroad, while warning of an increasingly violent German extreme right.
“Salafism is a particularly rapidly growing and extremely worrying group within the extremist movement,” Hans-Georg Maassen, head of domestic intelligence, told a news conference as he presented his agency’s 2012 annual report.
Extremists in Germany numbered 42,550 in 2012, according to surveillance services, and the number grew to 4,500 from 3,800 in a year, he said.
Maassen added that while not all Salafists are militants, it was clear that those who departed Germany for Syria or Egypt were there for that purpose.
“One can say that Salafism is an essential step towards militancy or for people ready to conduct terrorist attacks,” Maassen said.
He also stressed that the number of extremists in Germany did not signify there were “42,500 potential terrorists” in the country.
Still, some 1,000 people including some extremists are considered dangerous and 130 are seen as a particular threat and are monitored around-the-clock.
The intelligence report also showed that Syria is another favoured destination for militants. “We counted more than 60 people who left Germany to fight in Syria,” Maassen said.
In March, Germany banned three extremist groups which officials said aimed to sweep aside democracy and set up a system based on Sharia law.