Hans-Georg Maaßen, head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), told the Rheinische Post at the weekend that at least 24 children had headed to the Middle East from Germany. “The youngest was 13,” he said.
The Local Of the 24 who have left, five children have returned with battle fighting experience, Maaßen said. Among the 24, there were also four girls who, according to Maaßen, travelled with a “romantic ideal of marrying a jihadist.” They married fighters who they met online, the BfV head added.
Around 400 Germans have joined jihadists in Iraq and Syria, security services believe. The majority are young, male and poorly educated and around 130 have returned.
One 30-year-old Turkish man was arrested by a special police unit in Berlin on Monday after returning from an Isis training camp in Syria. He was allegedly trained in weapons handing by Isis in Syria from January to August this year.
Maaßen said none of the child fighters who have returned were previously known to police. They only became aware of them when their parents reported them missing or when foreign intelligence agencies contacted the BfV.
“The vast majority are from migration backgrounds,” Maaßen added. Many failed at school or didn’t get on with their family.