“We have a huge problem,” Stephan Kramer, head of the Thuringian branch of the Verfassungsschutz (VS) told the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung on Friday.
Kramer noted that recent months had seen two acts with potential terrorist links carried out by minors, including a 15-year-old who stabbed a federal police officer in Hanover and two boys arrested over a bomb attack on a Sikh temple in Essen.
“We see concrete examples in Germany where minors are not only being radicalized, but instrumentalized as weapons,” Kramer said.
“The question is how we as VS branches should act to recognize such processes of radicalization early and stop them in their tracks,” he went on.
That would likely mean lowering the minimum age for storing communications data, Kramer said.
According to the MZ report, VS chief Hans-Georg Maaßen said in an internal meeting this week that “we essentially can't keep data on people under 16 unless there are concrete indications of a terrorist threat”.
VS officers have reportedly recorded several instances in which young teenagers or children have travelled to Syria or Iraq alone or in the company of their families – but the authorities were not allowed to record even their names.