Germany offers program for extremists to quit

Reluctant Islamist radicals will be offered help finding jobs, confidentiality and government protection

Published July 19, 2010 3:14PM (EDT)

Germany's domestic intelligence service on Monday started a program for Islamist radicals who want to quit extremism, an initiative under which people will be offered help finding new jobs and moving home.

A spokeswoman for the agency, who was talking on condition of anonymity in line with agency policy, declined to say how much money had been allocated or how many employees were working for the program.

However, she said the agency would guarantee confidentiality to users, and also help with safety measures if people seeking to quit are threatened by radicals.

"Our program is an offer for those who want to leave extremism behind," she said. "Once we find out what their needs are, we will develop the program accordingly."

The intelligence service estimates there are more than 36,000 Islamist extremists in Germany, but only a fraction of those are considered potentially violent.

The program, which is called HATIF -- meaning phone in Arabic -- also is aimed at family members or friends of people who have come under influence of extremists.

They can contact members of the intelligence service online or call a specific number. The service is offered in German, Turkish and Arabic.

Germany has not seen a large-scale terror attack, but in recent years, there have been attempts to commit attacks on public transportation and U.S. military bases.

By Kirsten Grieshaber

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Germany Islam Terrorism