German domestic intelligence agency chief Hans-Georg Maassen
German domestic intelligence agency chief Hans-Georg MaassenGetty Images

The head of Germany's domestic intelligence agency, the BfV has denied that staff security checks need increasing after it was revealed that an Islamic extremist infiltrated the agency.

On Tuesday (29 November), it was revealed that a 51-year-old man – employed by the agency to monitor radical Salafist groups in Germany – was actually an Islamic extremist, who had leaked confidential information on the internet and offered to help smuggle an extremist into BfV headquarters to commit a terror attack.

BfVF chief Hans-Georg Maassen said that stringent security checks had been conducted on the individual, and there had been no way of knowing in advance that he was a radical Salafist.

"We carried out a thorough background check in which we interviewed five references and looked at the entire spectrum [of information]," Maassen told reporters. "He was the father of a large family from a solid economic background who did good work. He apparently radicalised himself."

The man, who is a German citizen born in Spain and a recent convert to Islam, was arrested on 17 November after another BfV employee found he had leaked confidential information. He has not been charged and his name had not been publicly disclosed.

Maassen said the fact the man had been uncovered relatively quickly showed there were no fundamental flaws in the agency's counterintelligence armoury.

"Of course, we'll thoroughly go through this case to see what we can learn from it," Maassen said. "In the course of our employment selection process, we've filtered out a whole series of people we think may be extremists and employees of foreign intelligence services."

Der Spiegel reports that the man converted to radical Salafism in 2014, keeping the conversion a secret even from his family.

He was employed as part of a recruitment drive by the agency in April in face of the threat from Islamic State. The BfV position was his first job in intelligence.