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More than 800 Islamists leave Germany to join IS in Syria and Iraq

According to a newspaper report, more than 800 Islamists have left Germany to join jihadi groups such as the so-called "Islamic State" in Syria and Iraq. At least 60 percent were German citizens.

German daily "Die Welt" reported on Tuesday that more than 800 Islamists have left Germany to join jihadi groups such as the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) in Syria and Iraq.

Around a third of Islamists who had joined up with the jihadi militants abroad had also returned to Germany, meaning the number of "jihadi travelers" has slightly increased since the beginning of the year, said a spokeswoman for the Federal Criminal Office (BKA). In January, BKA President Holger Münch said the criminal bureau had in fact seen a slight decline in travel by Islamists to the war zones.

Watch video 04:56

Young Muslims joining the jihad

The report also said that German authorities now believe that more than 130 jihadis who have traveled to Syria or Iraq have as foreign fighters have died - some of them as suicide bombers.

After studying the backgrounds of 677 Islamists who traveled to Syria and Iraq up until last June, the BKA found that most of the militants were men between the ages of 22 and 25. More than 60 percent of jihadi travelers had German citizenship, and one sixth had converted to Islam.

Islamists on trial

Authorities in Germany and throughout Europe are currently working on how to contend with the problem of the hundreds of citizens who have left to fight alongside extremists in conflict regions and the danger they pose on their return.

German police have also carried out a number of raids on suspected Islamist homes in recent months, with several Islamist suspects standing trial on suspicion of fighting alongside jihadis.

In December, a court in Celle sentenced two men to a total of seven years and three months in jail for being members of a terrorist organization, while in January another man was arrested on suspicion of carrying out a "war crime against a humanitarian operation."

ksb/cmk (KNA, AFP)

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