German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière has praised the U.S. and President Donald Trump for “outstanding” cooperation on intelligence matters regarding radical Islamic terrorism.Mr. de Maizière said it was of “outstanding importance” the intelligence agencies in both Germany and the U.S. worked together to combat radical Islamist extremism. He said the Trump administration has been both “highly professional” and “outstanding” in regard to intelligence cooperation, Die Welt reports.
Maizière made the remarks at a symposium of the Federal Office for Constitutional Protection (BfV), Germany’s domestic intelligence agency.
Hans-Georg Maassen, head of the BfV, also stressed the importance of cooperation between the two countries saying that U.S. agencies are a “very important source of knowledge” and added: “I say that we need each other.”
“Europe is the target of Islamic state terrorism,” Maassen said adding: “In our opinion, Germany has been prioritised by the Islamic State.”
Maassen also noted the threat from al-Qaeda, whilst greatly diminished in recent years, was still a threat to the West and said the group “could try to make the loss of reputation by new, spectacular terrorist attacks”.
According to the BfV head, the organisation receives new tips about terror plots and people who are sympathisers of Islamic terror groups like Islamic State every day.
“There is also the high number of young, male, Muslim asylum seekers and migrants, who are to a large extent without a clear identity and we do not know much about them,” he said.
“The threat of terrorist attacks, whether directed or influenced by ISIS or al-Qaeda will continue to remain at a high level in the future or even increase,” Maassen said and noted the number of adherents to the radical Islamic sect of Salafism had grown from 8,650 a year ago to over 10,000 today.
In the UK, the number of Islamic radicals was revealed to be even greater at 23,000.
Over the last year, Islamic radicals have committed five separate attacks on German soil, the most notable being the Berlin Christmas market attack in December which killed a dozen people. Several other attacks have been thwarted by intelligence officials including a plot by several Syrian asylum seekers to cause mass carnage in the heart of Dusseldorf.
Radicalised migrants or Islamic State fighters who have used the migrant crisis to sneak into Germany have been a major issue for German intelligence. A German undercover journalist who lived in several migrant homes across Germany claimed that asylum homes were a “breeding ground for Salafists and terrorists”.