Proposed for Killing

KABUL/BERLIN | | afghanistan

KABUL/BERLIN (Own report) - The German Bundeswehr and the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) are more deeply involved in extra-judicial killings of terror suspects in Afghanistan, than was previously known. According to reports published in the media during the final days of 2014, a German major general, who, today, is one of the defense minister's closest advisors, had insisted in, at least one case, that ISAF "capture or neutralize" a suspect. Contrary to German intelligence agent's false claims, cell phone data, that the BND has been passing on to US services on a regular basis, have been used to locate individuals for killer drone attacks. Extra-judicial killings are largely based on intelligence shared by western countries, including Germany, within the framework of the war in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a focal point of the BND's global activities. The German government has explicitly declared the assassination of "enemy combatants" - even outside combat zones - to be permissible.

Capture or "Neutralization"

Contrary to previous affirmations, German military officers in Afghanistan have proposed suspects for the so-called targeted killings. This has been confirmed by an excerpt from a document, published in late December by the "Bild-Zeitung." According to this document, Major General Markus Kneip demanded at an ISAF meeting in May 2011 that "priority" be given to the "capture or neutralization" of a man named Qari Hafiz.[1] The government had previously insisted that Bundeswehr officers had exclusively called for suspects to be captured and were themselves not involved in extra-judicial killings. This has now been disproven. From April to October 2006 and from February 2011 to February 2012, Kneip had been the commander of the Regional Command North (RC-N) in Afghanistan. Today, he is heading the Defense Ministry's "Strategy and Deployment" department. According to a description of his working relations with Defense Minister Ursula van der Leyen, "Kneip accompanies her on all foreign trips and troop visits. Recently he again visited the Kurdish front in northern Iraq. He briefs her, explains, and aids in evaluations."[2]

Vital for Operations

According to a report published in late December, the German intelligence services' false claims, contending that cell phone data was unsuited for locating suspects, for example for drone "targeted assassinations," has also been disproven. This allegation has been used since it became known that German services regularly provide US authorities with such mobile communications data. This had probably facilitated the extra-judicial execution of the German, Bünyamin Erdogan, with a killer drone on October 4, 2010.[3] A British intelligence dossier, dating from October 2010, explicitly states that the scanning for telephone signals is "vital to the success of operations" targeting suspects.[4] It explains that, in Afghanistan, drones and the ISAF's Eurofighters scan for radio signals. When a known number is detected, the chase is on. As in the case of Bünyamin Erdogan, this always happens far from any combat zones. Apparently, this is why opposition to the transfer of cell phone numbers developed within the German intelligence services. In August 2013, it was reported that BND President Gerhard Schindler had to personally give the order, after some BND operatives - aware of the consequences - had balked.[5] In an ordinance dated November 24, 2010, the Ministry of the Interior is said to have explicitly ordered the transfer of telephone numbers.[6] However, considering this ministry's competence, this must refer to data transfers from the domestic intelligence service (Federal Office of the Protection of the Constitution) or the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA).

14 Eyes

The BND is merely feigning its repudiation of collaboration with the extra-judicial assassinations. The compilation of the ISAF's Joint Prioritized Effects List (JPEL), registering persons to be captured or killed, is largely based on intelligence information. However, as BND President Schindler has explicitly confirmed in late October, this information was shared, within the framework of the Afghanistan mission, with the services of other countries on mission at the Hindu Kush. "Therefore, just as we were receiving indications, situational information or warnings, for example, from the Mongols, the Hungarians, the Danes, the Azerbaijanis, the Jordanians or other nations on mission in Afghanistan, these partners of course had every reason to expect us to share our information with them," confirmed Schindler. "Of course, this indispensible cooperation included sharing person-related data."[7] The BND shared its information also within the framework of the "14 Eyes" spy alliance,[8] where the USA - guilty of the majority of the targeted killings - is also a member. The "14 Eyes" operates a technical platform code named "Center Ice," which, according to an internal NSA presentation, also serves for exchanging operational targets. The BND has specifically admitted providing "Center Ice" with intelligence data.[9]

Exhaustive Espionage

The intelligence data secured in Afghanistan autonomously by the BND and exchanged with partner services is exhaustive. In mid 2013, it was made known that the intelligence service was tapping the communications of the Afghan government - under orders of the Federal Chancellery.[10] In the spring of 2008, it was exposed that the BND was not only spying on the country's Minister of the Economy, but on his entire ministry. As the intelligence expert, Erich Schmidt-Eenboom reported, the computer hard disks, Germany had so benevolently donated to the Ministry of the Economy were Trojan infested.[11] It is unknown, whether the technology furnished to Afghanistan's intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), by the German companies, Siemens as well as Rhode and Schwarz [12], are also offering similar eavesdropping possibilities. However, BND President Schindler had announced, at the end of October, that his foreign intelligence service has dedicated 300 operatives - both on site and in Germany - to spying on Afghanistan. It has also been reported that all data retrieved by the BND at the Hindu Kush, is being stored for a period of time, for systematic evaluation. This refers to "every kind of communication: telephone, internet, email, GPS data processing, etc."[13]

With German Government's Accord

The German government considers the fact that German intelligence is also used for extra-judicial killings to be morally sound. Back in 2010, the government declared in writing that it is permissible "to selectively target enemy combatants, even without their participation in concrete hostilities." This explicitly includes "the use of fatal force."[14] Also in 2010, it was learned from the German Ministry of Defense that "in accordance with the circumstances of the individual case," it will be determined "which persons ... can be fought at any time as enemy combatants, and which persons exceptionally will lose their protective status as civilians."[15] Both of these bits of information were customized for application in the Afghanistan War and meant to legitimize the "targeted killings" of war suspects, outside the pale of the procedures of rule of law. Despite the fact that international jurists strongly refute this interpretation,[16] it should be noted that Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, where "targeted killings" also are carried out on a regular basis, are not within the Afghan combat zone. Information furnished by German intelligence services has contributed to at least one extra-judicial killing of a German in Pakistan - Bünyamin Erdoğan.

For more information please read Tyrannical States, Silent Complicity and Enemy Combatants.

[1] Geheimpapier über Killer-Kommandos. www.bild.de 30.12.2014.
[2] Markus Frenzel, Michael Schmidt: Bande fürs Leben. www.afghanistan-connection.de.
[3] See Tyrannical States.
[4] Jacob Appelbaum, Matthias Gebauer, Susanne Koelbl, Laura Poitras, Gordon Repinski, Marcel Rosenbach, Holger Stark: Obamas geheime Todeslisten. www.spiegel.de 29.12.2014.
[5] Stefan Buchen, Hans Leyendecker: Unmut über BND-Chef Schindler. www.sueddeutsche.de 10.08.2014.
[6] See Enemy Combatants.
[7] Rede des BND-Präsidenten Gerhard Schindler anlässlich der 2. Nachrichtendienst-Konferenz am 31. Oktober 2014. www.bnd.bund.de.
[8] Den "14 Eyes" gehören die Mitglieder des Spionageverbundes "5 Eyes" (USA, Großbritannien, Kanada, Australien, Neuseeland) sowie Belgien, Dänemark, Deutschland, Frankreich, Italien, die Niederlande, Norwegen, Schweden und Spanien an.
[9] Jacob Appelbaum, Matthias Gebauer, Susanne Koelbl, Laura Poitras, Gordon Repinski, Marcel Rosenbach, Holger Stark: Obamas geheime Todeslisten. www.spiegel.de 29.12.2014.
[10] See Befreundete Dienste (II).
[11], [12] Erich Schmidt-Eenboom: Der BND in Afghanistan. www.geheimdienste.info.
[13] BND speichert Datenverkehr aus Krisenregionen. www.spiegel.de 07.09.2014.
[14] Deutscher Bundestag, Drucksache 17/2884, 08.09.2010.
[15] Deutscher Bundestag, Drucksache 17/2775, 20.08.2010.
[16] See Tyrannical States.