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Sharp rise in German women joining 'Islamic State'

The head of Germany's domestic spy agency said around 100 German women left to fight for the "Islamic State" and that half of them are under 25. In all, there are some 7,500 Germans suspected of sympathizing with IS.

Hans-Georg Maassen, head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution - Germany's domestic intelligence agency (BfV), said on Wednesday there has been a sharp increase in German women heading to Iraq and Syria to join the "Islamic State."

"We've seen a rise in the number of women who fall for the increased appeal of the recruiting activities both on the Internet and through direct personal contacts," Maassen told reporters in Berlin.

He pointed out that the increase was most prominent in young women under the age of 25.

"

The threat

is becoming increasingly complex," the spy chief said.

About 100 of the 700 Germans who are reported to be in combat areas are women, half of whom are under 25 while 15 percent are 18. However, the figures only consider women who left the country to fight with the "Islamic State" and do not take into account the wives of militants.

Around 7,500 Germans are suspected of sympathizing with the "Islamic State," Maassen noted. He added that 100 out of the at least

700 citizens who joined the militant group

have been killed in combat and approximately one-third of those who returned to Germany had combat experience.

Trial of 'Islamic State' supporter

The BfV's announcement came on the heels of a Düsseldorf court's sentencing of a 26-year-old German-Polish woman for providing financial support to the "Islamic State."

The Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court sentenced Karolina R. to three years and nine months in prison, a court spokesperson said on Wednesday.

The woman who was living in Bonn, Germany's former capital, is reported to have sent financial support in the amount of 5,100 euros ($5,700) to her husband, an "Islamic State" militant in Syria.

Karolina R. made five transfers to a middleman based near the Syrian border in Turkey in February 2014. The court found that she had solicited others to provide support to "Islamic State" militants after visiting Syria twice with her husband and son in 2013.

The trial initially began with three defendants, all German women with ages ranging from 23 to 26, although one of the defendants was excused from the case for health reasons. The third co-defendant in the case was handed a suspended sentence of one year and nine months.

ls/sms (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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