German spy chief: 13-year-old children joining extremist groups
Also among the 24 children were four girls, who travelled with a ‘romantic ideal of marrying a jihadist’
At least 24 children, some as young as 13, have headed from Germany to Iraq and Syria to join Islamist extremists, Germany’s internal intelligence chief has said.
Also among the 24 children were four girls, who embarked on the trip with a “romantic ideal of marrying a jihadist,” Hans-Georg Maassen, head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), told the Dusseldorf-based Rheinische Post.
Maassen added that five of these children had since returned with combat experience.
The 24 children join the ranks of around 400 German citizens who have joined extremist groups in the Middle East, according to security services.
Last week, a 20-year-old German man went on trial on charges he was an ISIS militant, the first such case to come to court in Germany. The man is believed to be one of around 130 extremists who has since returned to the country.
Around the same time, more than 2,000 German mosques have invited Germans of all religions to join their Friday prayers to present a united front against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to try to dissuade young Muslims from travelling to fight with the radical group.
Germany’s four main Muslim groups announced their plan on Tuesday in response to concerns that German Muslims are joining ISIS and returning home with radical ideas and combat experience, posing a domestic security threat.
“We want to make clear terrorists and criminals do not speak in the name of Islam, they have trampled on the commandments of our religion, and that murderers and criminals have no place in our ranks, in our religion,” the head of the Central Council of Muslims, Aiman Mazyek, told a news conference in Berlin, Reuters reported.
Around the same time, a 20-year-old German man went on trial on charges he was a member of ISIS group, the first such case to come to court in Germany.