The German military command is concerned that radical Islamist militants could train with the armed forces and then use that training to teach radical groups in the Middle East or for terror attacks in Europe. At least 20 former German soldiers have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight for the Islamic State group, according to Christof Gramm, head of Germany’s military intelligence wing, known as MAD.
Gramm said he is seeing "the risk that the Bundeswehr can be misused as a training camp for violence-ready Islamists,” according to Deutsche Welle, adding that he supported the inclusion of background checks on potential soldiers to ensure they are not a security risk. He criticized the lack of background checks like those seen in commercial industries and said it would not be difficult for a “moderately intelligent Islamist” to conceal his motives and join up with the Bundeswehr, as Germany's military is called, for training free of charge, according to Reuters.
Militants would get firearms and tactical training with the Bundeswehr, depending on their area of specialty.
Extremism at home has become a focal point in Europe this year after radical Islamists who claimed to be aligned with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula attacked the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. One of the two perpetrators claimed to have trained with al Qaeda in Yemen in videos released after their raid, which was confirmed by foreign intelligence services in Europe and the U.S.
Germany in 2011 suspended its mandatory military service requirements,which had stood for around 47 years. All males were required to serve six months in the military or opt for civilian service.
A Canadian former commando was killed in action last week in Iraq after he and the other Canadian soldiers he was traveling with were caught in a friendly fire incident with Kurdish forces there, according to the Associated Press. He was there as part of an advisory mission with Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State group in the region.