A number of children, one aged just thirteen, have left Germany for Syria and Iraq to join Islamic jihadists. Some have already returned with battle experience. They join around 400 other Germans who have left for the Islamic State to join jihadist forces there, The Local has reported.
The disturbing news was revealed by Hans-Georg Maaßen, head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) who was speaking to the Rheinische Post. According to Maaßen 24 children have already travelled to take part in the jihad. Four were girls who had met Islamic fighters online and had left with a “romantic ideal of marrying a jihadist,” while five had already returned with fighting experience. None of the five were previously known to the police, who were only made aware of their actions when they were reported missing by their parents or foreign intelligence agencies contacted the BfV.
“The vast majority are from migration backgrounds,” Maaßen added. Most were known to be failing at school or were clashing with their family at home, which fits the wider pattern for Germans who had joined the jihad. A recent report by the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution found that the jihadists were typically “young, male failures”.
The report found that 90 percent were male, 75 percent did not finish school, and just 12 percent held jobs when they left for the middle east.
Last Friday German Muslims held a day of prayer and rallies condemning both Islamic extremism and the backlash against the wider Muslim population that it has caused in Germany. “We want to make clear that the majority of Muslims in this country and around the world think and act differently. Islam is a peaceful religion,” said Aiman Mazyek, chairman of the Central Council of Muslims. Germany’s interior minister Thomas de Maizière visited a Hanover mosque to show his support for the action day.