In the latest scandal set to rock Germany, Spiegel reports that a German intelligence officer has been arrested over a suspected Islamist plot to bomb the agency's headquarters in Cologne, raising fears that the spy agency itself has been infiltrated. The 51-year-old official had made a "partial confession" to the plot, Spiegel reports.
Germany's domestic security agency
The suspect attempted to pass on "sensitive information about the BfV (Germany's domestic security agency), which could lead to a threat to the office", an official told the newspaper. The spy agency first became aware of the man's activities about four weeks ago according to Der Spiegel.
A spokesman for the Bundesverfassungsschutz (BfV) declined to provide details on the man's position at the agency or say when he joined. He also declined to comment on a report in Die Welt newspaper that the 51-year-old had planned to explode a bomb at the agency's central office in Cologne.
"The man is accused of making Islamist remarks online under a false name, and offering internal information during chats," the spokeswoman told AFP. The suspect has, since April, been engaged in gathering intelligence on the Islamist scene in Germany, according to Der Spiegel.
The alleged mole also offered to share sensitive data about the BfV which could have endangered the agency's work, the spokesman said
The spokesman said the suspect had not previously attracted attention, adding: "The man behaved inconspicuously during his employment process, training and in his area of responsibility."
Online chats were apparently found between the suspect and other Islamists in which he attempted to recruit them to the intelligence agency to mount an attack on "non-believers".
The man's family reportedly knew nothing of his conversion to Islam and subsequent radicalization.
German police have arrested several suspected Islamic State sympathisers in recent weeks, including a 20-year-old Syrian refugee who had tried to cross into Denmark with potential bomb-making materials. Two weeks ago, German police launched its biggest crackdown in Islamists in the nation with dawn raids in 60 different cities on about 190 mosques, flats and offices believed to have links to the Islamist missionary network ‘The True Religion."
The BfV estimates there are about 40,000 Islamists in Germany, including 9,200 ultra-conservative Islamists known as Salafists, Hans-Georg Maassen, who leads the agency, told Reuters in an interview earlier this month. "We remain a target of Islamic terrorism and we have to assume that Islamic State or other terrorist organisations will carry out an attack in Germany if they can," he said at the time.
ISIS claimed two attacks in late July - on a train near Wuerzburg and on a music festival in Ansbach - in which asylum-seekers wounded 20 people in total. In addition, security forces had to respond to an attack in a shopping centre in the city of Munich in which nine people were killed by an 18-year-old German-Iranian who had been in psychiatric treatment and was obsessed with mass killings.