Islamic State has stepped up its presence in Germany as a target for jihadist terror attacks, the country’s domestic intelligence agency said during a news conference on Wednesday.
Agency President Hans-Georg Maassen told reporters that the number of violent extremists in the country has increased to 1,600 individuals.
“We continue to have a high threat level in Germany,” Mr. Maassen said, as reported by local media. “Over the course of 2016, Germany has become much more prioritized as a selected target for IS.”
According to Mr. Maassen, tip-offs about potential threats have tripled over the last four years. A hotline for reporting tips on Islamist terrorism received 1,100 calls last year — more than double a record set in 2015.
Mr. Maassen said the information is getting more specific, and that individual cases are examined closely.
Germany has been on high alert for terrorist activity since December, when an IS attacker drove a truck into a Christmas market in the capital, killing 12 and injuring dozens of others. Since then, authorities have undertaken several raids, the most recent of which was two weeks ago, when a Berlin mosque where the market attacker was supposedly radicalized was shut down and several related homes and businesses searched.
A government source told German daily Die Welt that the statistics should not be cause for more alarm, but rather a reflection of “the new water level,” where terror attacks have become an assumption of the current political climate.
Despite this, opposition party the Greens have criticized the federal government of inciting fear in the public.
“It is right for people to take the danger seriously,” the Green’s deputy parliamentary chairman Konstantin von Notz told Die Welt. “But alarmism and oracle-like warnings do not help more.”
Mr. von Notz called for a “complete explanation” of what happened in Berlin. Authorities were aware of the Christmas market attacker’s willingness to carry out a suicide attack, but he somehow slipped through bureaucracy.