German intelligence sources say some 60 Germans have died fighting for the jihadist group "Islamic State." Many others have returned from conflict zones in Syria and Iraq - and now pose a threat at home.
At least 60 Germans have died fighting alongside militants from the jihadist group "Islamic State" (IS) with at least nine being killed in suicide attacks, Germany's domestic intelligence chief Hans-Georg Maassen said in an interview published Sunday.
Maassen told the weekly Bild am Sonntag that some 550 radical German Islamists had gone to conflict regions in Syria and Iraq to help IS in an offensive that has seen the group capture large amounts of territory in both countries in recent months.
German authorities were increasingly concerned about the high figure, which had gone up more rapidly in the past six weeks, he said, calling it "a sad success for Islamist propaganda."
'A certain danger'
Maassen said that some 180 German jihadists were thought to have returned home, creating a dangerous potential for attacks within Germany itself. Authorities were deliberating on measures to monitor their activities, he said, but admitted that intelligence services did not have the capacity to watch over all of them all of the time.
"The situation is worrying, but we don't have be scared. We should prepare for the fact that attacks could also happen here, even if we, of course, will do everything to prevent them," he said.
"We just have to know: there is a certain danger," he aded.
As one of the measures to combat further recruitment and the spread of Islamist propaganda, German intelligence services were cooperating closely with domestic and international Internet providers to delete postings in social-media networks, Maassen said.
The aim was "to restrict this communication as far as possible," he said.
The German government has recently introduced legislation barring its citizens and legal residents from joining the fight in Iraq and Syria under threat of prosecution.
tj/kms (dpa, AFP, Reuters)