September 17, 2015 / 9:06 PM / 4 years ago

German spy says Salafists trying to recruit refugees - newspaper

Migrants rest on camp beds at a temporary shelter in Freilassing, Germany September 17, 2015. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

BERLIN (Reuters) - Ultra-conservative Islamists are seeking to recruit Sunni Muslims among the refugees in Germany by offering to help them, the head of domestic intelligence agency (BfV) said in a newspaper interview.

The German government expects 800,000 new arrivals this year as Europe faces its worst refugee crisis since the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s. Many of the arrivals so far are Muslims from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We’re observing that Salafists act like philanthropists and helpers, deliberately seek contact with refugees and then invite them to the relevant mosques to recruit them for their cause,” BfV head Hans-Georg Maassen told regional German newspaper Rheinische Post in comments due to be published on Friday.

He played down fears that Islamic State would try to send terror squads disguised as refugees to Germany, saying while the BfV and the BND foreign intelligence agency had followed up on lots of leads, they had found no sign that this was the case.

Maassen said the routes that refugees take were too dangerous for “terrorists” as they would risk death or being exposed if they embarked upon such journeys.

Security specialists have said the risk that groups like Islamic State could smuggle militants into Europe under cover of a huge wave of migrants is much smaller than some politicians suggest.

Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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