The head of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND), Gerhard Schindler, has visited Syria to discuss the presence of German extremists in the country, a report says.
According to the Friday report, Schindler has met with the chief of the Syrian national security agency, Ali Mamluk, and other Syrian officials in Damascus.
The visit comes after Berlin expressed concerns about the return of German extremists who have been fighting against the government of President Bashar al-Assad along with foreign-backed militants including the terrorist al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front.
On April 29, German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich confirmed that some German-born gunmen had teamed up with the militants inside Syria.
German security officials have expressed concern about the experience the German extremists have gained in Syria and the contacts they have made there.
They fear that the extremists, particularly given the usefulness of their passports, would return to Europe with terror missions.
A recently published study revealed that between 2,000 and 5,500 foreign nationals are active in Syria. Senior counter-terrorism officials within the European Union have stated that at least 500 of those nationals come from the EU countries.
Pan-European police force, Europol, said in its annual EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report released on April 25 that Syria was the “destination of choice for foreign fighters in 2012.”
The report cited the risk that the foreign fighters pose on Europe - after their return - through using new training and knowledge that they acquired in Syria for conducting terrorist activities.
Syria has been gripped by unrest since March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of government forces, have been killed in the violence.