BERLIN — Germany's top security official said Friday that the terrorist threat to the country hasn't decreased and the number of radicals continues to grow, even with the death of Osama bin Laden. Security officials saw no reason to lower Germany's threat level following the death of the al-Qaida leader, said Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, presenting the annual report by Germany's domestic intelligence agency.
"The Islamist terrorist threat is widely varied and has not concentrated on a single leader of al-Qaida for a long time," he said. "We have had a general threat situation in Germany and Europe that has not changed for two years, but there are no concrete dangers."
Though there have been several unsuccessful or foiled attacks by Islamic radicals in Germany, the first fatalities attributed to a Muslim extremist came this year in March when a 21-year-old Kosovo-born ethnic Albanian allegedly gunned down two U.S. airmen outside Frankfurt's airport.
Overall, the number of people in Germany linked to radical Islamic groups rose to 37,470 in Germany in 2010, up from 36,270 the year before, according to the report from the Office for the Protection of the Constitution.
Most of those — 31,370 — were connected to Turkish groups, nearly all of them in Milli Gorus, a group whose founder advocates creating an Islamic state in Turkey. Most worrying was the increase in numbers in "Salafi" groups that espouse an ultraconservative interpretation of Islam and have been especially successful at recruiting young people, said Heinz Fromm, who heads the domestic intelligence agency.
He noted that the suspect in the March killing of the two U.S. airmen outside Frankfurt's airport had allegedly been inspired by watching Salafi videos online. "Not every Salafi is a terrorist but almost every terrorist that we are aware of has had contact with a Salafi," Fromm said. In other findings, the report said the number of right-wing extremists dropped to 25,000 last year from 26,600 in 2009 — but the number considered to be neo-Nazis rose to 5,600 from 5,000.
About one-fifth of the neo-Nazis are now considered part of a growing group of violence-prone extremists who target leftist radicals, Friedrich said "Their target group is no longer foreigners, but political enemies," he said. (AP)