The head of Germany's intelligence agency said that "several hundred" Muslim extremists are living in Germany and that al-Qaida is forming a strong base in North Africa, a German magazine reported Monday.
Ernst Uhrlau, who oversees the BND, the Germany intelligence agency, said that "up to 700 people are being surveilled, in different degrees," according to an interview with Der Spiegel.
He was also quoted by the magazine as saying that "more than a dozen" of those people had made trips to Pakistan and Afghanistan to try to make contact with Islamic extremist groups operating there.
"Converts that end up in extremist groups often tend toward political renegades and absolute intolerance and highest radicalism," Uhrlau was quoted as saying by the magazine for its special edition on Islam in Europe.
However, he also emphasized that most converts were "friendly people, who discovered Islam in searching for meaning for their lives."
In the interview with the magazine, Uhrlau underlined that northern Africa was becoming a greater security risk.
The magazine quoted him as saying that German intelligence and security agencies had followed "with great concern" the activities of a "handful of groups" that have settled in the region.
"What's growing there is bringing a brand new quality of jihad right to our front door," he was quoted as saying by the magazine.
Source: IHT (English)
The full interview is available in German on the Spiegel site.
See also: Germany: Al-Qaeda targeting German Muslims, Link Roundup