Berlin: Islamic State militants have been sneaking into Germany mingling with tens of thousands of asylum-seekers arriving in this country, according to German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere.
Germany's intelligence services have regularly received inputs about attempts by ISIS militants or other radical islamist groups to smuggle their people into the country and this heightened fears that there may be terrorists among the refugees, he said.
The secret services, however, have no concrete indication that extremists having orders to carry out attacks are among the migrants, even though "such a danger is always a possibility," he said yesterday during a visit to the federal police force headquarters in Wiesbaden, near Frankfurt.
He also spoke of the threat posed to Germany's internal security by extremist Islamic organisations such as salafists who try to radicalise the refugees by indoctrinating them in their reception centres and to "use them for their purposes."
Intelligence agencies have information that these groups are trying to recruit fighters for the war in Iraq and in Syria and very often, minors are their targets, he said.
Around 790 jihadists from Germany have already travelled to that region to join the ISIS forces, he said.
He said a vast majority of the refugees coming into Germany are in need of help and therefore it will be very inappropriate to treat all of them with suspicion of terrorism.
Integrating the refugees, especially those who have arrived recently, posed a major challenge for this country, he said.
Germany's interior ministry estimates that more than 60,000 refugees have entered the country since the beginning of this year and for the whole year it expects their number would go up to 800,000.
The minister sharply condemned a surge in right extremist attacks on asylum-seekers and shelters planned for them and warned that those involved will be dealt with the full force of the law.