Just one in four German jihadis finished high school, a report which describes those who travel to Syria as mainly ‘young, male failures’ has announced. The Local has reported that 90 percent of jihadis were male, and a third were aged between 21 and 25.
The statistics were compiled in a report by the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution who looked at the 378 German Islamists who have travelled to Syria in the last two years. Around a third are known to have returned to Germany after fighting within terror groups including ISIS, but only a dozen are being actively monitored by security services.
233 of the fighters held a German passport. The majority were born into Muslim families, but 54 of those who travelled to Syria were Muslim converts, including Berlin rapper Deso Dogg. The rapper gained fame with his three albums released between 2006 and 2009, but in 2010 he converted to Islam, changed his name to Abu Talha al-Alman and ended his music career.
Twenty percent were registered as unemployed, but only 12 percent are known to have had a job, mostly low waged. Just two percent had entered further education, but a third held a criminal record, mostly for violence and drug related offences. The youngest of the jihadis was aged just 15, whilst the oldest was 64 years of age.
German security services estimate that around 40 German jihadists have been killed fighting in Syria. Their number includes Burak Karan, who was 26 at the time of his death last year. Karan was a former football player in Germany’s youth league, but in 2008, at the age of 20, he abandoned the sport to follow Islam. He had travelled to Syria in order to fight with Islamists against the Assad regime, taking his 23 year old wife and two children, aged 3 and 10 months with them.
Karan was killed in a bomb explosion. His brother Mustafa later told German media that Karan had often sought out videos of Islamic conflict zones on the internet. “Burak said to me that money and a career were not important to him,” Mustafa said. “He was confused, and filled with sadness for the victims.”
Security services have pointed to a Salafist scene in many German cities which attracts and radicalises young Muslims and prospective converts. Last week, two Salafist men were arrested on the Austrian-German border accused of attempting to travel to Syria to join Islamist forces. The pair were on a bus en-route to Salzburg but aroused suspicion when they failed to show any valid identity documentation when asked.
The men both lived in Munich; one of them, understood to be Kosovan, was already under investigation for attempting to recruit new jihadis in Germany. As such, he was already under restriction against leaving Germany.