German security forces have received more than 100 tip-offs that Islamic State fighters may be hiding among migrants currently staying in the country, the head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency (BfV) has said.
The Berliner Zeitung says Hans-Georg Maassen mentioned the figure when discussing the security situation with the country’s Interior Ministry, local media reports.
He also reiterated previous statements that battle-hardened jihadists may be using the ongoing migrant crisis to enter Germany posing as refugees and “combat missions”. He said that November’s terror attacks in Paris shown Islamic State was exploiting the migrant crisis to send its fighters into the heart of Europe.
“Then we have repeatedly seen that terrorists … have slipped in camouflaged or disguised as refugees. This is a fact that the security agencies are facing,” Mr Maassen said. “We are trying to recognize and identify whether there are still more IS fighters or terrorists from IS that have slipped in.”
Following the Paris attacks, it was revealed that several of the gunmen had reached the city after entering Europe via Greece posing as asylum seekers.
Mr Maassen revealed back in November that his office was aware of 8,000 Islamist radicals already operating in Germany. He warned that Islamists were also operating within German migrant centres, radicalising the residents.
His comments follow raids on Thursday in which three Algerians were arrested for allegedly planning an attack on Berlin’s “Checkpoint Charlie”.
Around 450 officers swooped on addresses in Berlin, North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony in coordinated raids against people suspected of belonging to an Islamic State terror cell.
In one of the raids, police entered a migrant camp and arrested a couple who had entered Germany at the end of last year posing as Syrians. They had been registered as refugees and asylum seekers.
Another man, who had been living under a false French identity, was arrested in Berlin.
Police said they decided to conduct the operation on Thursday because the suspects had stopped talking about the potential attack for several days. “Since they were no longer talking about the attack, it was feared that they had completed their plans,” a security source said.