German authorities are investigating 410 separate leads regarding suspected terrorist sympathizers among the country's refugee population.
On July 25, the German newspaper, Neue Osnbabruecker Zeitung, reported that the number of terrorist leads within the country had grown from 369 in May 2016 to 410, according to Reuters.
In 60 separate cases, the German Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) has opened up official investigations but maintains that there is no evidence of an imminent threat.
“In view of the continuing migration to Germany we must assume that there could be active and former members, supporters and sympathizers of terrorist organizations or Islamist-motivated war criminals among the refugees,” a BKA source said.
Germany has been among the most accommodating European nations for the influx of refugees fleeing from the war-torn Middle East. The decision of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to maintain welcoming borders has been criticized by those who fear the rise of domestic terrorism.
The controversy over refugees has intensified following two attacks within Germany, one committed by a 17-year-old Afghan refugee named Riaz Khan Ahmadzai, who wounded four individuals with an axe aboard a commuter train.
On July 24, a 27-year-old Syrian refugee detonated a suicide bomb during a music festival, injuring roughly a dozen people, Gulf News reports.
These attacks have prompted opponents of Germany’s open border policy to accuse Merkel of recklessness.
“Our borders need to be secured and asylum-seekers inside the country need to be better monitored,” said Georg Pazderski, a member of the anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (AfD), the Start Tribune reports.
German Justice Minister Heiko Maas countered that casting suspicion on all refugees was dangerous and unfair.
“It would be a big mistake to prematurely declare that integration [of immigrants] has failed,” Maas said in the daily Bild, according to the Star Tribune. “Placing all refugees under general suspicion will only make it harder to integrate them.”
Chancellor Merkel’s spokeswoman, Ulrike Demmer, stressed that the recent acts of terrorism within Germany were committed by citizens who had been born and raised in the country.
“Most of the terrorists who carried out attacks in recent months in Europe were not refugees,” Demmer said. “This fact corresponds with ongoing investigations indicating that the terrorism threat [among refugees] is not larger or smaller than in the population at large.”