The German Federal Agency for the Protection of the Constitution, the country’s domestic intelligence service, claims there are now more than 1,800 violent jihadists in the country and the number continues to grow.
President of the domestic spy agency Hans-Georg Maassen announced the figures at a press conference on Thursday at the Bundestag in Berlin. He also warned of a growing trend in German primary schools which are seeing a rise in the popularity of radical Islamic ideas amongst students, Kronen Zeitung reports.
The number of violent jihadis is a dramatic increase compared to August of last year when the intelligence agency said they suspected there were 1,100 jihadists in the country, reflecting a 64 per cent increase.
The number of radical Islamic believers, also known as Salafists, has also climbed to over 10,000 and is still the fastest growing sect of Islam in Germany.
One of the major developments over the past year has been a rise in radicalisation amongst children in primary schools across the country. Teachers in schools have come forward claiming that their students exhibited signs of Islamic radicalism filling up extremist hotlines put in place by the government.
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The average age of radicalisation has gone down as well, from 20 to only 18-years-old.
Last year Wolfgang Trusheim, head of the Frankfurt state police, warned of radicalism amongst young children of Islamic extremists calling them “hate children”.
Islamic radicalisation expert Florian Endres, who works for the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), said the phenomena is very new. “Most children get their socialisation from a Salafistic environment – that is, the parents themselves are already radicalised,” he said.
In rare cases, the children are taken away from the parents but Endres said the problem is not just limited to migrant families as German converts to Islam have also been known to have radical views.
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One such convert is the notorious preacher Sven Lau who organised Islamic morality patrols or “Sharia Police“. Mr. Lau was recently convicted in court and given a five and a half year sentence for aiding terrorist organisations in the Middle East.
The rise in Islamic extremism in schools has also been linked by some to the growing number of anti-Semitic incidents in cities like Berlin where “you Jew!” has become a common insult on school playgrounds.