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Germany emerges as home to thousands of jihadists

German, Al Qaeda, Islamic State, Tablighi Jamaat

Counterterrorism

Germany emerges as home to thousands of jihadists

While the German security services are bracing themselves for the possibility of extremists in Europe travelling to Afghanistan to fight or train with Al Qaeda, a recent report from the German government said, there are about 1,950 potentially violent radical Islamic jihadists in the country. According to the information, these potential jihadists were assessed by the Interior Ministry as both extreme in their beliefs and either known to be violent or showing signs to commit violent acts, including suicide attacks.

Another information said, majority of the radical Muslims in Germany are connected or sympathetic to Tablighi Jamaat.

German official source said, radical Muslims are most dangerous of the roughly 29,000 people believed to have radical Islamic tendencies in Germany, who in turn are a minority of the approximately 5.5 million Muslims in the country. But, according to my opinion, the size of radical Muslims and potential jihadists in Germany is certainly a very alarming number.

German ministers have described right-wing extremism as the main threat to country’s constitutional order, but sporadic Islamist extremist attacks, including an attack at a Berlin Christmas market in 2016, have rattled the country.

In a written answer to a question from MPs, the German Interior ministry said those identified did not necessarily belong to Islamist extremist organizations but were tallied up when evidence of their violent tendencies emerged.

German intelligence services say the Salafist scene is the main ideological underpinning for violent extremism, although it has stagnated in size in recent years. It may be mentioned here that, Tablighi Jamaat was established on Salafi ideology, which later has emerged into one of the key vessels of spreading religious extremism and jihad. Tablighi Jamaat also plays role of recruiting front for a number of radical Islamic jihadist groups, including Al Qaeda and Islamic State (ISIS).

According to media reports, Bruno Kahl, the head of Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, said the Taliban’s return to power had made Afghanistan a potential focal point for extremists around the world.

In a speech in London, he also raised the concern that Afghan jihadist branch ISIS-K, an enemy of the Taliban which has carried out a series of atrocities in the country, could inspire attacks in Europe.

The Taliban made assurances after returning to power that they would not give a safe haven to terrorists, as they did during their 1996-2001 rule that culminated in Al Qaeda’s September 11 attacks on the US.

But their talk of a more moderate Taliban rule has been undermined by killings of former western-backed security forces and the reintroduction of strict laws affecting women and girls.

Bruno Kahl said Al Qaeda remained closely linked to the Taliban and would be able to operate more freely in Afghanistan in future, and could seek to re-establish training camps in the country.

He told a London School of Economics event that both Al Qaeda and ISIS-K had profited from the departure of international troops and the security services of the former Afghan government.

In addition, extremists linked to Al Qaeda were “celebrating worldwide” after the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan.

“That could make Afghanistan attractive for extremist volunteers because the re-establishment of the Islamic Emirate has a high symbolic value in this scene”, he said.

“We must watch closely to see whether there are onward journeys from other extremist hotspots or even outward journeys from Europe to Afghanistan”.

At least 5,000 fighters from Europe are estimated to have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight for ISIS at its peak, before it lost its last territory in 2019.

In Afghanistan, thousands of fighters belonging to ISIS-K escaped from prisons in the aftermath of the Taliban takeover.

Bruno Karl said, ISIS-K may plan further attacks in Afghanistan that could have ramifications elsewhere.

ISIS at its peak inspired a steady drumbeat of attacks in Europe, including atrocities in Britain, France and Germany. UK security services were on alert for the threat of terrorism before the Taliban completed their rout of Afghan forces.

An internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, research-scholar, counter-terrorism specialist, and editor of Blitz. Follow him on Twitter Salah_Shoaib

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