The German military has seen a sharp rise in extremism in its ranks this year, according to figures released Friday.
The Bundeswehr’s Military Counterintelligence Service (MAD) has recorded 286 cases of right-wing extremism in 2017. The figure marks a doubling from the 275 cases that were investigated at the beginning of the year, German media reports.
The issue came to light in April after an army lieutenant identified as Franco A. plotted a “grave act of violence” while posing as a Syrian refugee. Ulla Jelpke, the domestic policy spokeswoman for the Left Party, described the suspected extremists as “ticking time bombs,” given their access to weapons.
“Even on reasonable suspicion, the persons concerned should no longer have access to weapons until the allegations have been clarified,” Jelpke said of the report, according to Die Zeit.
Newspaper Die Welt reported in August 2016 that MAD was investigating 64 suspected Islamists in the military. Welt cited draft documents where investigators suspecting Islamist terror cells actively try to get its “short-term servicemen” into military training. The goal is to later “use the skills acquired in the army” for attacks in Germany and abroad.
Security checks have only been allowed after individuals sign up for the armed forces, but lawmakers have proposed 20,000 additional security checks per year to cope with the problem.
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