BERLIN (Reuters) - The head of Germany’s domestic intelligence services called for “orderly procedures” regarding the handling of the daily entry of thousands of refugees to Germany, saying extremists could exploit the sometimes chaotic migration situation.
Friday’s deadly attacks in Paris in which at least 129 people were killed have fueled a debate in Germany on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s welcoming approach to refugees and on how to get a better overview of the people entering the country.
Europe is grappling with its worst refugee crisis since World War Two, and Germany has been taking in the bulk of some 1 million people expected to arrive this year.
“It’s possible that there are also terrorists coming with the refugees, but we consider this as less likely,” Hans-Georg Maassen, president of the BfV domestic intelligence agency, said in an interview published by several local newspapers on Sunday.
“For the security authorities it’s important to have orderly procedures regarding the entry to Germany and the implementation of asylum procedures,” he said.
While German police are currently conducting passport checks at border crossings and in border areas, thousands of refugees are thought to be coming into the country without any checks.
Maassen noted that the refugee route from Syria and Iraq to Turkey, Greece and north via the Balkan countries was extremely dangerous. “It would be risky and untypical for persons with a combat mission to cross over from Turkey to the Greek islands in a coffin ship”, he said.
Maassen also expressed concern that radical Islamists already in Germany could seek to recruit young migrants.
“We observe that Islamists are specifically approaching refugees in reception facilities. We already know of more than 100 cases,” he said.
Radical Islamists view the refugee crisis as a chance to recruit people for their cause, he said.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel have both warned against making any hasty links between the Paris attacks and the refugee debate.
In light of the refugee influx, Germany reimposed border controls on Sept. 13 and decided to keep them in place beyond the initial limit of two months foreseen by Europe’s Schengen rules using a clause that permits checks to be kept in place for a maximum of six months.
Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Hugh Lawson