World

German domestic intelligence chief says number of Islamic extremists growing rapidly

FILE - In this June 11, 2013 file picture the president of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Hans-Georg Maassen attends a press conference in Berlin, Germany. The head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency says the number of Islamic extremists in the country is growing rapidly. Hans-Georg Maassen says his agency counts estimates that some 6,300 people in Germany are adherents of a fundamentalist strain of Islam known as Salafism. Maassen told rbb-Inforadio in an interview broadcast Saturday Oct. 25, 2014  that the number of Salafis could rise to 7,000 by the end of the year.  (AP Photo/dpa,Stephanie Pilick,File)

FILE - In this June 11, 2013 file picture the president of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Hans-Georg Maassen attends a press conference in Berlin, Germany. The head of Germany‚Äôs domestic intelligence agency says the number of Islamic extremists in the country is growing rapidly. Hans-Georg Maassen says his agency counts estimates that some 6,300 people in Germany are adherents of a fundamentalist strain of Islam known as Salafism. Maassen told rbb-Inforadio in an interview broadcast Saturday Oct. 25, 2014 that the number of Salafis could rise to 7,000 by the end of the year. (AP Photo/dpa,Stephanie Pilick,File)  (The Associated Press)

The head of Germany's domestic intelligence agency says the number of Islamic extremists in the country is growing rapidly.

Hans-Georg Maassen says his agency estimates that some 6,300 people in Germany are adherents of a fundamentalist strain of Islam known as Salafism.

Maassen told rbb-Inforadio in an interview broadcast Saturday that the number of Salafis could rise to 7,000 by the end of the year, compared to about 3,800 three years ago.

He says extremist strands of Islam provide disaffected young people with a sense of belonging and purpose that allows them to hope they'll go "from being underdogs to top dogs."

Authorities estimate that some 450 Salafis have traveled from Germany to join extremists groups fighting in Syria and Iraq.