German authorities concerned over potential jihadist terrorism

The German flag. In Germany, supporters of ISIS are clashing with Kurdish Yazidis.

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to Supporters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) terror group have clashed last week with Kurdish Yazidis in North Rhine-Westphalia, the state housing Germany's largest Muslim population.

The violence -- which comes amid threats by a German jihadi to blow up an American nuclear weapons storage facility in Germany -- has counter-terrorism officials concerned that radical Muslims are deliberately exploiting the ethnic and religious tensions in the Middle East to stir up trouble on the streets of Europe.

German authorities have long warned of the threat posed by Salafism, a radically anti-Western ideology that seeks to impose Islamic Shariah law in Germany and other parts of Europe.

Membership in Islamic extremist groups in Germany rose to 43,185 in 2013, up from 42,550 in 2012, according to German intelligence estimates. The number of Salafists in Germany rose to 5,500 in 2013, up from 4,500 in 2012, and 3,800 in 2011.

Although Salafists make up only a fraction of the estimated 4.3 million Muslims in Germany, authorities are increasingly concerned that most of those attracted to Salafi ideology are impressionable young Muslims who are susceptible to the notion of perpetrating terrorism in the name of Islam.

North Rhine-Westphalia is home to the largest concentration (about 1,500) of Salafists in Germany. The region is also home to most of the estimated 60,000 Yazidis who live in Germany.

A German Interior Ministry spokesperson said that although "the threat is abstract, it may become real at any time." 

Posted on August 12, 2014 .