German intelligence implicated in cooperating with CIA on Jihadists database
Police escort a suspected member of al Qaeda as they leave the federal supreme court in Karlsruhe April 30, 2011.(Reuters / Alex Domanski)
Germany's intelligence services and the US’ CIA cooperated for several years to collect a suspected Jihadists database. Code named PX, it included info on German Islamists, Der Spiegel reported.
According to the weekly magazine, Germany's intelligence agencies Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), and Verfassungsschutz (BfV) along with the CIA cooperated on what was codenamed "Project 6".
The three agencies monitored and collected data on Islamists and suspected terrorists in Germany. In 2005 “Project 6” was based in the western town of Neuss, where the services jointly rented premises. However, later the group moved to Cologne.
The Der Spiegel did not name its sources, but reported that the BND confirmed the existence of the so-called "Project 6" and the database named "PX", but said the cooperation with the CIA ended in 2010.
Despite being tasked with collecting data of suspected jihadists, terrorist supporters and people with Islamist background, the database also included the name, date of birth and passport number of a German investigative journalist, Stefan Buchen. He used to work for the NDR public broadcaster and is also known to have contacted an Islamist preacher in Yemen and visited Afghanistan on a number of occasions.
Commenting on the report, Germany's Federal Data Protection Commissioner, Peter Schaar, gave assurances that he was not aware of such a database, but has criticized the apparent lack of transparency. However, he said “PX” is “at least comparable” to an anti-terror database, to which dozens of German authorities have had access since 2007.
In early July, Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee and NSA contractor, accused Germany and the US of partnering in spy intelligence operations, revealing a close cooperation between the two countries, despite Chancellor Angela Merkel’s denial of any knowledge of NSA’s tactics. Also back in July, Der Spiegel reported that the German Federal Intelligence Service, the BND and NSA work very closely together.