MOSCOW, November 27 (Sputnik) – The number of Western women travelling to Iraq and Syria to marry Islamist fighters has increased over the past few years, the head of Germany's security agency Hans-Georg Maassen told NBC News Thursday.
"The number of women travelling to Syria and Iraq has significantly increased, at least in comparison to a few years ago when young people went to Afghanistan and Pakistan," Maassen said.
According to the German official, girls aged as young as 15 are largely driven by "romantic blindness" when they leave their homes "to become the second or third wife" of an Islamist fighter.
Maassen stressed that it is not clear "whether they would be willing to commit an attack here or if they only see themselves in the role of a supporting Islamic wife".
Earlier in November, Maassen said that around 550 German nationals have recently travelled to Iraq and Syria, and many of them have joined militants from the jihadi Islamic State group that is currently waging war in Syria and Iraq. Once they return they are under constant surveillance by German intelligence.
In his interview to NBC News, the head of the Germany security agency also emphasized the significance of cooperation between Germany and the United States in their fight against the extremism.
Amid the advance of Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, the United States launched an international coalition that is conducting airstrikes against IS positions in both countries, as well as training and providing military equipment to Kurdish people in Northern Iraq who are fighting the insurgents.
Germany joined the coalition efforts but has so far abstained from airstrikes. Over 60 percent of Germans are opposed to the airstrikes against IS positions, according to an ICM Research poll released earlier in November.