Children returning from war zones controlled by ISIS in Syria and Iraq could grow up to be a new generation of terrorists, the chief of German Intelligence has warned.
More than 950 people from Germany went to join ISIS in Syria and Iraq, some 20 percent of them women and 5 percent minors, according to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) said.
With ISIS losing territory in Syria and Iraq, many of the women are expected to return with their children. Germany needs to prepare for the risk of the children being radicalized, BfV Chief Hans-Georg Maassen said.
“We see the danger of children who socialized with and were indoctrinated by extremists returning to Germany from the war zones,” said Maassen.
“This could allow a new generation of extremists to be raised here.”
Last year, a 12-year-old German-Iraqi boy failed in an attempt to detonate two explosive devices in the western town of Ludwigshafen.
A spokeswoman for the Immigration and Refugee Department in Nuremberg reported that the Family Guidance Center against Extremism received in 2016 about 1,000 calls from Muslim families asking for advice, fearing their minor children might become extremists.
German lawmakers said that the country planned to spend more on security, intelligence gathering and foreign aid in 2017, as part of their efforts to counter growing security threats. A package of measures passed by Parliament's budgetary committee will also see an additional 3,250 federal police hired in the coming years.
The lawmakers said that staffing plans for a new agency designed to break encrypted communication have been doubled to 120. Spending on programs for civil protection and migrants will also be increased, pending parliamentary approval.
Separately, German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported that the country's Federal Intelligence Service (BND) spy agency is to receive its own dedicated satellite. Until now, the agency has relied on satellite imagery taken by the German army or allied intelligence agencies.
On the level of terrorism, prosecutors in Dortmund demanded a three-year prison term for a militant, who is classified as "dangerous" and accused of preparing for a terrorist bombing.
The 21-year-old man, named only as Ivan K under German privacy laws, was already under police surveillance as an associate of Islamic preachers close to Anis Amri, the Berlin Christmas market attacker.
A police search of his apartment found propaganda and terror manuals from ISIS as well as evidence he had been preparing to make explosives.
The incident has raised concerns that extremists may turn to crossbows as a potential terror weapon.
Police acted after a surveillance team witnessed Ivan K buying a powerful high-performance crossbow in the west German town of Lippstadt, far from his home.
When he emerged from his hotel the next day in Feb 11, 2017, carrying the crossbow in a sports bag, he was detained.