Germany investigating 64 suspected 'extremist Islamists' in armed forces

BERLIN (REUTERS) - Germany's military counter-intelligence agency is investigating 64 suspected "extremist Islamists" working for the armed forces, a spokesman for the Defence Ministry said on Wednesday (Aug 31).

The 64 could include civilian as well as uniformed employees, the spokesman added. People judged to be "extremist Islamists" are not permitted to work for the military.

Between 2007 and 2016, 30 "extremist Islamists" went to Syria or Iraq after being employed in the armed forces, the spokesman said. Nineteen people were discharged from the forces for being "extremist Islamists" during that period.

Germans have been unsettled by a series of violent attacks on civilians, two of which were claimed by Islamic State.

The agency is currently only allowed to run checks on people who already work in the armed forces. The cabinet on Wednesday approved proposals to change the law to permit such checks to be made on applicants to join.

On Sunday Welt am Sonntag newspaper said a draft document justifying the changes said there were indications Islamists were trying to get into the military for training.

The armed forces employ 250,000 people.