ISIS is taking in members as young as 13 from Germany, including young girls who leave for the Middle East with a "romantic ideal of marrying a jihadist," authorities say.
The head of Germany's Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Hans-Georg Maaßen, told the Rheinische Post that at least 24 children have left the country for the Middle East, including at least one as young as 13.
Some were young girls who married men that they met online who encouraged them to travel to Iraq and Syria, he added. There have been a total of about 400 Germans who traveled to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS, the militant Islamist group that has taken over large swaths of the region. Authorities said they were mostly young, male and poorly educated, and about a quarter of them have already returned.
Some of the children have returned as well, with a number of them gaining battle experience.
Maaßen said most of the children who joined ISIS were reported missing by their parents or discovered by foreign intelligence services.
"The vast majority are from migration backgrounds," Maaßen added.
Those who leave Germany to join ISIS are not welcome to return, authorities have said. This week the trial began for 20-year-old Kreshnik Berisham, who left to fight with the militant group in Syria but later tried to return to Germany. Though he once played on a local Jewish soccer club, Berisham is believed to have fallen in with radical Muslim fundamentalists and left last year to fight with ISIS in Syria.
Berisham tried to return to Germany in December but was arrested at the Frankfurt airport.
He faces up to 10 years in prison for his involvement with ISIS, though prosecutors said he did not appear to be making any plans for attacks in Germany.
German authorities have not said if children leaving to join ISIS will face similar charges.
[Image via RT.com]