Islamic terrorism poses the most serious threat "to the security and stability of Germany," Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said as he presented the latest report by the nation's domestic intelligence service.
There was only a slight rise in the number of potentially radical Islamic extremists, but Schäuble warned that a botched attempt by Islamists to blow up German trains last year and video messages published in German by terrorists on the internet showed that Germany had "to reckon with a new quality of terrorist activity."
Six Lebanese men accused of plotting to bomb the trains in western Germany in July 2006 are currently standing trial in Beirut.
One of the defendants has confessed to Lebanese authorities that
he planted the homemade bombs to avenge the publication in Denmark of cartoons of the prophet Mohammed. Investigators believe the devices failed to explode because of faulty detonators.
Schäuble has come under fire for allowing intelligence agenicies to snoop on PCs via the Internet
In addition, a little-known Islamic extremist group issued a warning in March that Germany could come under attack unless it withdrew its troops from Afghanistan.
Last weekend, US media reported of an imminent attack on Americans in Germany by an al Qaeda cell. German press reports said five Islamists living in the Frankfurt area and belonging to a little-known group with ties to al Qaeda had triggered a security warning by US authorities last month.
Schäuble said intelligence services were focusing their efforts on monitoring radical Islamist websites in an attempt to spot potential attacks at the planning stage.
"The Internet gives terrorists a gigantic forum, whether as a communications platform, an advertising portal, or as a virtual training camp and think tank," Schäuble said.
Right-wing attacks on the rise
Violence by right-wing extremists also shot up in 2006 by 9.3 per cent, the report by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution showed.
The far-right National Democratic Party (NDP) gained 1,000 new members to take their membership to 7,000. Schäuble voiced concern that neo-Nazis have a growing influence on the NPD leadership and spoke of the "alarming development" that the extreme right was gaining more acceptance in society.
The interior minister, however, rejected the idea of attempting to ban the party, saying this would make it more difficult to observe NDP activities.
Concern over G-8
There have been a series of anti-G8 protests in the past weeks
The report found that left-wing violence dropped by 3.8 percent, but Schäuble used the opportunity to warn that that the government wouldn't allow "potential violence to hinder the orderly course of the G8 summit," which Germany is hosting at the Baltic Sea resort of Heiligendamm on June 6-8.
German police last week staged a series of raids on the homes and offices of militant left-wingers suspected of planning to disrupt the meeting between the leaders of Germany, France, Italy, Britain, the United States, Canada, Japan and Russia.