A growing number of Islamist radicals are infiltrating Germany's military, the Bundeswehr, with an estimated 30 former soldiers later joining international terrorist organizations, reports German press agency DPA International.
Germany's military counterintelligence service (MAD) says 65 active soldiers are under investigation for suspected Islamist tendencies. Since 2007, 22 soldiers designated as Islamists have been discharged or left the military. Moreover, 29 former soldiers have left for Syria and Iraq to join Islamist terrorist organizations.
"We perceive a risk that the Bundeswehr may be used as a training ground for potentially violent Islamists," says MAD leader Christof Gramm.
German intelligence believes that the Islamic State is actively recruiting operatives with a military background. Moreover, Germany's Ministry of Defense expressed concern that no background checks are required for soldiers in unclassified positions.
"Like all armies, the Bundeswehr can be attractive to Islamists seeking weapons training...," Hans-Peter Bartels, the parliamentary commissioner for the military, told the DPA. Bartels added that Islamists in the German army pose "a real danger that needs to be taken seriously."
Following the January 2015 Paris attacks targeting the Charlie Hebdo satirical publication, Gramm became increasingly concerned since the terrorists appeared to have professional military training.
"It would be negligent of a MAD president not to ask what would happen if a Bundeswehr-trained Islamist did something like this, and we had failed to notice anything," Gramm said.
In one case, a German convert to Islam, called Sascha B for anonymity, gradually began exhibiting signs of increased religiosity and extremism. He began growing his beard, wearing Middle Eastern attire, and even going AWOL at times.
Sascha B eventually refused to train reservists after soldiers in his unit were deployed to Afghanistan. He justified his position by arguing that weapons could be used against other Muslims. During interrogation by MAD officials, Sascha B proclaimed that sharia law should override Germany's constitution.
Several prominent examples of Islamist infiltration within the U.S. military also have caused immense concern.
A Muslim army soldier killed two comrades and injured 14 others after throwing a live grenade in a tent in Kuwait prior to the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. In 2009, U.S. Army major and psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hassan shot and killed 13 people at Fort Hood because he believed that no Muslim could faithfully serve in the U.S. military.
Hassan exhibited signs of increased radicalism for a significant period of time prior to the terrorist attack. "It's getting harder and harder for Muslims in the service to morally justify being in a military that seems constantly engaged against fellow Muslims," Hasan said during a 2007 presentation at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Three years later, Army Pvt. Naser Jason Abdo was arrested for planning an attack on a popular restaurant frequented by Fort Hood troops. He plotted to set off an explosives device in the restaurant, then shoot and kill as many survivors as possible.
When his mother asked her son why he would commit the terrorist attack, Abdo replied: "The reason is religion, Mom."