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Islamists in Bundeswehr ranks: reports

November 5, 2016

The German government is planning security checks on all Bundeswehr applicants from July 2017 after 20 Islamists were uncovered in the army, a report says. It said more suspects in the ranks were being investigated.

Deutschland Soldaten des Logistikbataillons 171
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/J. Wolf

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen will soon propose legislation to carry out security checks on every aspiring Bundeswehr recruit, after the military counterespionage service (MAD) identified 20 Islamists in army ranks, a media report said on Saturday

The draft law, to be considered by German parliament in the coming weeks, could result in the army holding 20,000 additional security checks per year, the report from German publisher Funke Mediengruppe said.

Up to now, the law has allowed security checks on recruits only after they have been taken on by the Bundeswehr.

Growing security concerns

 A spokesman for MAD said 60 additional potential cases in the Bundeswehr were under investigation for suspected links to Islamist militants.

He said recruiting offices had received an undisclosed number of queries from people wanting to join the military for just a few months to undergo intensive weapons and equipment training.

Such queries have bolstered concerns that Islamist groups might be trying to gain military training for their supporters by having them join the Bundeswehr. MAD already warned early last year that radical Islamists militants could be abusing the opportunities offered by the army.

In the draft law, the Defense Ministry refers to incidents in which Islamist terrorists in other countries, such as Afghanistan, have urged members of the military to attack their own colleagues or allied armed forces.

German security services are on high alert after two Islamist militant attacks this summer. The arrival of some 900,000 migrants last year, many of them from the Middle East, has also fueled fears that Islamist extremists might have entered the country as pretend asylum-seekers.

tj/ (Reuters, dpa)