The number of Islamist sympathizers is at an “an all-time high”, Maassen, the president of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), said on Sunday. The number has gone up from 9,700 to 10,800 over the past year, with the fundamentalists increasingly abandoning radicalization in mosques in favor of “small conspiratorial circles, primarily on the internet,” which is proving a “particular challenge” for the security services. The splitting up of Islamist groups into smaller factions has also made them more difficult to monitor, Maassen added.
Salafists follow an ultra-conservative, fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, and Salafist organizations such as Hizb ut-Tahrir see Western-style democracy as incompatible with the rule of God, instead seeking to live under Sharia law. This might not necessarily make them prone to terrorism or violence, but their beliefs provide the spiritual basis for groups like al-Qaeda and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).