Germany’s Defense Ministry is proposing better screening of new army recruits over fears that Islamic State sympathizers could be joining up to get military training before returning to fight with the terrorists in Iraq and Syria.
German counter-intelligence officials believe at least 29 former soldiers from the country have left to join the Islamic State and an internal report revealed that 65 active soldiers are being investigated for alleged jihadist sympathies, according to documents reviewed by the DPA news agency.
Since 2007, as many as 22 German soldiers have been identified as Islamists, with 17 being fired, the DPA report said, according to Russia Today.
The remaining five soldiers had reached the end of their service by the time the investigation was concluded.
According to the report, Germany’s military counter-intelligence service, known as MAD, has investigated 320 suspected jihadists since 2007.
The German Parliament’s commissioner for the military, Hans-Peter Bartels, says training with the Bundeswehr or other countries’ armies is attractive for extremists and should be taken seriously.
Still, he says he has seen no evidence of “any Islamist organization attempting to systematically infiltrate the Bundeswehr,” The Associated Press reported.
In response to the findings, the German Defense Ministry wants MAD to take greater steps to ensure jihadists are not infiltrating the German Army.
At present, only new recruits joining sensitive areas of the military are required to undergo background checks.