April 27, 2008

German apology for Afghan spying/Uhrlau

German Spies Put Afghan Ministry under Surveillance
Germany's foreign intelligence agency was already under pressure for spying on an Afghan minister and a SPIEGEL journalist. Now SPIEGEL has learned that BND agents had an entire Afghan ministry under surveillance.
BND Agents 'Knew What They Were Doing'
German intelligence agents have been caught spying on a German journalist -- again. The controversy over e-mails collected from a SPIEGEL reporter has become a national scandal. Chancellor Merkel says her faith in her spy chief has been rattled, while German papers wonder if the service can be trusted at all.
Agency Admits Spying on Afghan Politician and SPIEGEL Journalist
The head of Germany's foreign intelligence agency has come under fire over admissions his employees monitored e-mails exchanged between a minister in the Afghan government and a SPIEGEL journalist. Chief spy Ernst Uhrlau will likely keep his job, but the scandal is expected to shake up the organization.
BND chief Ernst Uhrlau
The BND chief was criticised for not reporting the affair

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has apologised to his Afghan counterpart for actions by Germany's foreign intelligence service, the BND.

German media reported last week that the BND had spied on the Afghan trade minister and a German journalist.

An Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman said the apology had been accepted.

The BND could face legal action over claims it spied on Suzanne Koelbl, a reporter for Der Spiegel, and Afghan trade minister Amin Farhang in 2006.

Der Spiegel said the head of the BND, Ernst Uhrlau, had apologised to Ms Koelbl for monitoring e-mails to Mr Farhang.

But the magazine said that it was still considering legal action against the agency.

Mr Farhang says the BND has endangered his life.

The agency has not commented publicly on the case.

It is alleged to have installed Trojan spyware on Mr Farhang's computer hard disk in 2006.

A German parliamentary committee investigating the affair condemned the fact that Mr Uhrlau had not informed the government or the committee about the case. But it stopped short of calling for his resignation.

On Steinmeier

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On Uhrlau

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NPD growth The man in overall charge of Germany's intelligence services, Ernst Uhrlau, said he was optimistic about the chances of obtaining a ban on the party at the Constitutional Court.
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And Ernst Uhrlau, the head of Germany's foreign intelligence service (BND), has warned that the security situation in Afghanistan is expected to worsen in the coming months.
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German Spy Chief Warns Of Al-Qaeda's Growing Strength In North Africa

2008-03-26 03:19:49
Intellpuke: Spiegel, Germany's news magazine, recently interviewed Ernst Uhrlau, the president of Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the BND, about the risk of attack by Islamist terrorists in Germany, how German Muslims are training in camps in Afghanistan and the risk from al-Qaeda in North Africa. The interview follows:

The fight against Islamist terrorism is becoming increasingly globalized as intelligence agencies around the world cooperate and share information. One of the major nodes in that network is Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), which is based in Pullach in Bavaria.

Together with Germany's domestic intelligence agency, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the BND keeps an eye on the activities of Muslim extremists in Germany and abroad. Although there has never been a major Islamist terror attack in Germany, a number of Islamist plots have been hatched in the country - the most famous of which being the 9/11 attacks, which were partly planned by a terror cell in Hamburg.

In recent years, there have been two major plots to carry out attacks in Germany, both of which failed for different reasons. In 2006, two Lebanese men - popularly known as the "suitcase bombers" - tried to detonate bombs on trains in Germany. The plan failed when the bombs failed to explode, due to flaws in their construction.

Then in 2007, German authorities foiled a plot by a three-strong terror cell in the Sauerland region. The men, two of whom were German converts to Islam, had planned to target U.S. Army bases and airports in Germany. The conspiracy, which was uncovered after a months-long surveillance operation by the German authorities, sparked fears that the kind of "home-grown" terrorism seen in the United Kingdom had spread to Germany.

Spiegel talked to Ernst Uhrlau, head of the BND, about the fight against Islamist terror, the dangers posed by converts to Islam and how marginalization of Muslims can lead to radicalization.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Uhrlau, last September three Islamists were arrested in the village of Oberschledorn in the Sauerland region. They were in the process of storing explosives for use in a number of potentially devastating attacks. Six years after Sep. 11, 2001, are terrorists now taking aim at Germany?

Uhrlau: We are part of a broad European danger zone. Militant Islamists have already planned attacks seven times. According to information obtained by Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office, we must now assume that it is highly likely that further attacks are planned. We are worried that in the future we will not be able to prevent all the operations.

SPIEGEL: What role does Germany play in the terrorists' strategy?

Uhrlau: On the one hand, we are a target for attack by Islamist terrorists. One example is the Cologne suitcase bombers -- two Lebanese men who deposited homemade explosive devices in German regional trains in the summer of 2006. The fact that the device didn't explode was apparently due to mistakes the men had made in assembling the bombs. On the other hand, we are also a place where terrorists prepare attacks they intend to carry out in other countries. For example, the so-called Meliani Group used Frankfurt as a base in 2000 when it planned an attack on a Christmas market in Strasbourg, France.

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