Germany warns of threat from more than 500 'potential attackers'
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere cautioned that while German security forces are doing the very best in locating and stopping terrorists within Germany, several hundred potentially volatile immigrants and refugees are currently in the country.
Germany's Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has warned that the country is home to more than 500 Islamic militants who could be capable of carrying out assaults on their own or as members of "hit teams."
Speaking in an interview with Bild newspaper, Maiziere said there were currently at least 520 "potential attackers" in the country, which has been on edge since two ISIS-inspired attacks in July.
He said another 360 "relevant" people were known to police because of their close proximity to the potential attackers.
Many Germans fear that fighters belonging to ISIScould have slipped into Germany with the roughly one million of refugees from Syria, North Africa and Asia who arrived last year.
"The terror threat now stems from foreign hit teams as well as fanatical lone wolves in Germany," de Maiziere said in the interview ahead of the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the United States, which were partly coordinated from Germany.
"The hit teams are secretly smuggled into Europe and prepare their actions without being noticed, as we saw with the attacks in Paris and Brussels," he added. "But it's even more difficult to uncover the fanatical lone wolves. Unfortunately, there is a real and present danger from both threats."
He said security authorities were doing everything possible to monitor "the potential terrorists" and noted that there have been more investigations and arrests this year. Despite their efforts, though, he said that "The authorities are assuming there are undiscovered lone wolf terrorists out there."
Germany had until July been spared the kind of militant attacks suffered by neighboring France and Belgium. But in late July, ISIS claimed two attacks—on a train near Wuerzburg and at a music festival in Ansbach—in which asylum-seekers wounded a total of 20 people. In light of these attacks, Germany's anti-immigrant party Alternative for Germany (AfD) has publicly criticized Chancellor Angela Merkel for her government's migrant policies.