The head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency warned of the ‘massive danger’ posed by returning ‘brainwashed’ Islamic State women and children.
‘There are children who have undergone brainwashing in the Isis areas and are radicalised to a great extent,’ said Hans-Georg Maassen.
Maassen, head of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution – Germany’s equivalent of MI5 – added: ‘We are already observing the return of some women and adolescents.
‘This is a problem for us because these children and adolescents in particular can be a danger.
Germany lost about 1,000 of its citizens to Islamic State’s cause and now fears ‘massive danger’ from brainwashed women and children returning home
‘We also know that there are women one can rightfully call Jihadists after living for years in IS areas where they identified strongly with IS ideology.’
He said not all were returning home intent in perpetrating terror but insisted: ‘We must keep an eye on these women.’
Germany lost around 1,000 of its citizens to the Islamic State cause in Iraq and Syria, Europe as a whole is estimated to have lost 10,000 to 15,000 people.
The return exodus comes as IS strongholds in both countries fall. So far, however, there has been little sign in Germany of surviving male fighters coming back.
‘As far as the fighters are concerned, we do not yet see a strong return movement,’ said Maassen.
‘We are assuming that those from the West who are still struggling at the moment will want to be there until the end – and only then a movement to return to Europe will start.’
Intelligence leaders in Germany say there has been little sign of surviving male fighters returning to the country
He warned not only Western fighters, but also other jihadists, would try to come to Europe.
The intelligence chief added that defeat in the Middle East is by no means its end.
He added: ‘The geographical demise of IS in Syria and Iraq does not lead to the disappearance of the terrorist militia.
‘IS is now represented in some other states and is quite strong there. In addition, the group is networking enormously in virtual space. There’s a global cyber-caliphate.
‘It sends the message to its followers: “You don’t necessarily have to come to Syria and Iraq to fight. You can also lead jihad where you are.”
‘Many who sat on packed suitcases and wanted to travel to jihad have therefore remained in their homeland.’
He warned that there is a risk that this group will commit terrorist acts in European cities.