December 10, 2015 / 8:01 PM / 2 years ago

German spy head says Syria deployment doesn't increase risk

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany is at risk of a terrorist attack but the danger has not increased because of its part in the military campaign against Islamic State in Syria, the head of Germany's BfV domestic security agency has said.

Hans-Georg Maassen told German broadcaster MDR that IS and Al Qaeda had eyed Germany for years, adding that both he and Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere had repeatedly warned terrorist attacks could happen at any time.

On Friday, Germany's lower house of parliament approved government plans to join the military campaign against IS. Berlin has now started sending aircraft and military personnel to Turkey in preparation.

"Now that Germany is actively taking part in the war, it is of course being seen in the same light as the USA, France and so on. But we do not see the danger, which was already big anyway, increasing due to this," he added.

In November, Islamic State attacks in Paris killed 130 people. A shooting rampage in San Bernardino, California last week that the FBI is investigating as an act of terrorism left 14 people dead.

Germany will not join countries like Britain, France, the United States and Russia in bombing Syria but it has said it will send six Tornado reconnaissance jets, refueling aircraft, up to 1,200 military personnel and a frigate to help protect the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle.

Maassen said the BfV estimated there were around 1,100 Islamists in Germany prepared to use violence and 430 considered so dangerous they could commit a serious crime at any moment.

Maassen urged refugees who have come to Germany to pass on information about possible terrorist threats against Germany and about other refugees who could be jihadists. He said the BfV depended on such tip-offs to ensure security in Germany.

Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Tom Heneghan

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