German counter-intelligence believes that at least 29 former soldiers from the country have left to join Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. An internal report also revealed that 65 active soldiers are being investigated for alleged jihadist sympathies.
The report was undertaken by the German military counter intelligence service (MAD), which was seen by the DPA news agency. The documents show that at least 29 former German soldiers have fled to the Middle East to join Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
Social Democratic Party (SPD) MP Hans-Peter Bartels, who is responsible for oversight of the army, said on Tuesday that “Islamism isn’t the main problem of the Bundeswehr (German Army), however, he did mention that “it represents a real danger that we have to take seriously.”
As many as 22 soldiers have been identified within the Germany Army of being Islamists since 2007, with 17 being sacked. The remaining five had reached the end of their service when the investigation had been concluded.
According to DPA, MAD has investigated a total of 320 suspected cases of Islamism since 2007.
Alarmed by the revelations, the German Defense Ministry now wants MAD to take greater steps to ensure that jihadists are not infiltrating the German Army. This will include every prospective soldier being investigated for links to anti-Constitutional movements. However, this would need the law to be changed.
At present, only those joining sensitive areas of the military have had to undergo background checks, while ordinary soldiers have not had to go through any vetting process.
“Just like other fighting forces, the Bundeswehr can be attractive for Islamists who want to acquire weapons training,” Bartels said. “But to my knowledge there is so far no systematic push by Islamist organizations to infiltrate the army.”
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German domestic intelligence has also warned that there is a major threat of future attacks in German cities from newly arrived migrants, amid fears that newly-arrived migrants are being radicalized.