German secret service worried about growing Salafism
German intelligence voiced concern Tuesday over the growing number of ultra-conservative Islamic Salafists in the country, warning that some of them were swelling jihadist ranks abroad.
"Salafism is a particularly rapidly growing and extremely worrying group within the extremist Islamist movement," Hans-Georg Maassen, head of domestic intelligence, told a news conference as he presented his agency's 2012 annual report.
Radical Islamists in Germany numbered 42,550 in 2012, according to surveillance services, and the number of Salafists within the movement grew to 4,500 from 3,800 in a year, he said.
Maassen added that while not all Salafists are jihadists, 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 jihadism or for people ready to conduct terrorist attacks," Maassen said.
He also stressed that the number of extremist Islamists in Germany also did not signify there were "42,500 potential terrorists" in the country.
Still, some 1,000 people including some Salafists are considered dangerous and 130 are seen as a particular threat and are monitored around-the-clock.
The intelligence report also showed that Egypt had replaced the Waziristan region of Pakistan as the main centre for the training of jihadists.
Additionally German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich said a "significant" number of people belonging to the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah were living in Germany but that they behaved in a "relatively moderate way".
"We are doing everything to make life for them as difficult as possible," Maassen added, saying Germany was cooperating with Israel on the issue of Hezbollah, blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by Washington.
The EU is facing calls to also add Hezbollah's military wing to its list of "terrorist" groups.
© 2013 AFP