Germany Says Security 'Critical' Due to Radical Islam, Pledges Aid to Syrian Refugees

Besides risk posed by German jihadists returning from Syria, there was also the danger of violent clashes on German streets as rival extremist groups turn on each other.

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Demonstrators chant pro-Islamic State slogans as they carry the group's flags in Iraq.
Demonstrators chant pro-Islamic State slogans as they carry the group's flags in Iraq.Credit: AP

Radical Islam poses a critical security threat to Germany, the nation's interior minister warned Tuesday, on the same day that Germany pledged half a billion Euros to aid displaced Syrian refugees.

The number of people capable of staging attacks in Germany stood at an all-time high, said Thomas de Maiziere, warning that besides the risk posed by German jihadists returning from Syria, there was also the danger of violent clashes on German streets as rival extremist groups turn on each other - mirroring the conflicts of the Middle East.

De Maiziere said security forces believed the greatest danger came from radicals striking out alone, as happened in Canada last week, when two soldiers were killed in attacks that police said were carried out by recent converts to Islam.

"The situation is critical. The number of threatening individuals has never been as high as now," he said. "We represent freedom, and are therefore an object of hate."
The domestic intelligence agency (BfV) has warned that ultra-conservative Salafism was becoming increasing popular - boosting the number of potential recruits for Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

Some 450 people have travelled from Germany to join the jihadists in Syria and Iraq. Around 150 have returned. The German authorities are monitoring a total 225 suspects believed capable of launching attacks on domestic soil, compared to just 80 or 90 a few years ago, de Maiziere said.

Displaced Syrian children attend a class in the Bab Al-Salama camp for people fleeing the violence in the Syria on October 27, 2014 on the border with Turkey. Credit: AFP

Although not directly involved in the U.S.-led air strikes on Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, Germany has agreed to send weapons to Kurdish forces in northern Iraq to help them defend themselves against the radical militants.

Meanwhile, Islamic State has released propaganda videos in German, with some featuring native-German speaking jihadists who threaten to unleash attacks back home.

In various German cities in recent months, gangs of Salafists and local Kurds have fought street battles, tensions fuelled by Islamic State attacks on Kurds in the Middle East.

On Sunday, a group of 4,000 far-right supporters staged an anti-Salafist march in the western city of Cologne, pelting police with stones, bottles and fireworks, injuring 49 officers.

'Not abandoning the refugees'

On Tuesday, Germany threw its financial weight at the Syrian conflict, pledging an extra 500 million euros (635 million dollars) to assist millions of refugees displaced by the fighting.

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier announced the sum, embracing both humanitarian aid and development aid to be spread over the next three years, at the end of an international conference in Berlin.

"The international community is not abandoning the refugees from Syria and we stand four-square by the nations that are giving them shelter," he told the meeting attended by top officials from Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, which have taken in many of those who have fled.

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