Germany's jihadists: Young, male, losers
The hundreds of Germans who have travelled to Syria to join jihadi groups are largely young, male and failed at school and in their careers, according to a report from the security services.
The report from the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, which has been seen by the Berliner Morgenpost, showed that of the 378 German Islamists who have headed to Syria since mid-2012 just one in four finished high school.
Six percent finished post-school training and two percent went into further education.
Almost 90 percent of those who have travelled to Syria are men. The youngest to go was 15 years old and the oldest 64, but the largest number (one in three) are aged from 21 to 25.
One in five were registered as unemployed and just 12 percent had a job. Those who did work were mainly employed in low paying jobs.
The analysis from the security services showed about 60 percent were born in Germany while eight percent were born in Syria and six percent in Turkey.
Of the 378, the office found 233 had a German passport and, while most were born as Muslims, 54 of those who had travelled to join the jihad were converts to Islam.
The most high-profile German to join a jihadist group is Denis Cuspert who was a Berlin rapper under the name Deso Dogg.
He is now known as Abu Talha al-Alman and fights for Islamic extremists Isis. He released three albums between 2006 and 2009 but ended his rap career in 2010 when he converted to Islam.
Another German extremists, Salafist Silvio K., has released videos threatening to attack Germany. One terror expert described him as a “star” of the jihadi scene, with around 5,000 to 10,000 supporters in Germany.
The security services also found that the young men’s radicalization began in Germany’s Salafist scene which has support in pockets of western cities such as Wuppertal.
Almost a third (117) had a criminal record before they were radicalized, mainly for violence and drug related offences.
Security services believe 40 Islamists from Germany have been killed in Syria. They include former footballer Burak Karan who played for Germany at youth level.
About a third who left have returned to Germany. In February a spokesman for Germany’s domestic security service told The Local that “up to a dozen” of those who had returned were being monitored.
The fighters have reportedly formed a “German Camp” in Syria and authorities said this week they had stopped two men at the German-Austria border who they believe were heading to the Middle East to join jihadists.