The number of people leaving Germany to join extremist militias has dropped dramatically, according to a police report cited by German media. However, officials suspect a change in jihadi strategy also played a role.
The self-proclaimed "Islamic State" (IS) caliphate has "pretty much no power left to draw in" recruits from Germany, the police and intelligence services say, according to reports first published on Thursday. In the reports, German state broadcasters and the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung cited a study which is allegedly set to be discussed in late November.
The IS offensive in 2014 and establishment of what it calls a "caliphate" in Iraq and Syria and had initially "mobilized and emotionalized" the Islamists in an unprecedented measure, the officials said. Also, the developments in the Middle East motivated thousands of Europeans to join the IS and similar militias. At its peak, nearly one hundred people left Germany every month to take part in the fighting, officials say.
However, the numbers dropped quickly and reached an average of "fewer than five travelers per month" between the summers of 2015 and 2016.
IS wants jihadis to stay home
Although reasons for the plunge are not completely clear, they may include tougher travel controls and seizure of passports, officials claim. Other motives could be "violence and brutality" of living in the self-proclaimed caliphate, as well as current military pressure on the IS.
At the same time, the IS itself urged its supporters "not to travel to the caliphate, but to commit attacks in their home countries." The officials said they could not determine whether this recommendation also helped drive the numbers down.
In general, the security situation in Germany has grown more dangerous, according to the study. Alongside returning jihadis, the country also faces "radicalized people who have stayed in Germany and whose number is difficult to estimate," officials say.
dj/msh (AFP, dpa)