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Germany's domestic security agency has identified a radical network made up of Islamist women. Female extremists are becoming increasingly common, as they aim to fill the gap left by their detained husbands.
German intelligence services said on Tuesday that they had identified an Islamist network made up of around 40 women in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous state.
Burkhard Freier, the head of the North Rhine-Westphalian Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), told Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper that the network followed a strict Salafist doctrine — from how to raise children and cooking ingredients, to how to interpret the rules of Islam and stir up hatred against so-called "non-believers."
The result, Freier said, could be something "much more difficult to dissolve, namely Salafist pockets within society."
The Islamist women's network also advertises and proselytizes Salafist ideology — which subscribes to an extremely conservative interpretation of Islam — aggressively on the internet, Freier said. And while it was wrong to conflate Salafism with extremism, every European jihadi in Europe in recent years had been a member of the Salafist scene, the BfV head added.
A 'family affair'
Freier also warned that this network of women had been indoctrinating children from an early age. "Salafism has become a family affair," he said.
The 40 so-called "sisters" identified by German authorities had also won the approval of their male counterparts. "The men have noticed that women can network much better and are therefore more capable of expanding the scene and keeping it active," Freier said.
The BfV chief's remarks followed reports in mid-December by Germany's DPA news agency, which revealed that German authorities had classified several dozen Muslim women and young people as potential risks to domestic security.
Increasing number of Islamists on the home front
Germany's BfV also warned that the "Islamic State's" territorial losses in the Middle East had led to a drop in the number of jihadists travelling out to Syria and Iraq, while the number of returnees was also increasing.
Among those returnees were an increasing number of women, Freier said.
dm/jm (dpa, AFP, KNA)