German spy agency destroyed employee files of former Nazi members

BND seal

BND seal

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Germany’s primary spy agency has admitted that it recently destroyed the personnel files of some of its employees who used to be members of Nazi-era organizations during World War II, before they were hired to spy for West Germany in the postwar era. The discovery of the destruction of the files was made by a group of German historians  appointed by the government to investigate the extent to which the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany’s postwar foreign intelligence agency, relied on former Nazi officials. It has been known for some time that a tenth of the BND’s postwar personnel had been members of the Hitler-era National Socialist German Workers’ Party, the Gestapo, the SS and its intelligence wing, the SD. Earlier this year, however, the BND’s outgoing Director, Ernst Uhrlau, appointed an independent commission of historians to research the BND’s attitude toward the hundreds of former Nazi officials within its ranks. Now the independent commission has told German media that, in 2007, the spy agency destroyed approximately 250 personnel files belonging to BND employees with Nazi pasts. The commission’s spokesman, Dr Klaus-Dietmar Henke, told German newsmagazine Der Spiegel that the destroyed files primarily related to people who occupied “significant intelligence positions in the SS, the SD or the Gestapo”. Der Spiegel, which described the incident as “a true historical scandal”, said that the destruction of the files “inevitably raises suspicions that agency employees have deliberately tried to obstruct […] efforts to investigate the organization’s history”. Read more of this post

German spy helped facilitate Israel-Hamas prisoner exchange

BND seal

BND seal

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Amidst the ongoing media frenzy over the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit by Hamas, in exchange for hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, few noticed that Germany was expressly thanked by the Israelis for its role in the deal. Speaking to journalists right after Shalit’s release, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his government was “grateful [to] German negotiators for helping facilitate the exchange. Commenting on Netanyahu’s statement, Germany’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Guido Westerwelle, said simply that he was pleased because the German government was “able to contribute to Shalit’s release”. But what exactly was Germany’s role in arranging the deal? The answer was given on Tuesday by Ernst Uhrlau, director of Germany’s intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND). Uhrlau hinted that BND officers had assisted Israel and Hamas in securing the unlikely agreement. Now Germany’s Suedeutsche Zeitung newspaper claims that it knows the identity of the BND officer who acted as the foremost mediator between Israel and Hamas. According to the paper, the officer’s name is Gerhard Konrad; he is 50 years old, six feet tall, and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from Germany’s prestigious Heidelberg University. He speaks fluently French, English and Arabic, which he perfected while working in the Middle East “for several years”. He began his career with BND by representing the agency in German embassies in countries such as Syria and Lebanon. It was there, says Suedeutsche Zeitung, that Konrad cultivated relationships of trust with Hamas and Palestine Liberation Organization-affiliated groups, such as Fatah. He also developed a strong reputation for negotiating with militant groups in adversary conditions. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #545

Robert Baer

Robert Baer

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►Pakistan restores visas to CIA personnel. The government of Pakistan has reissued entry visas to nearly 90 CIA officers, which were withdrawn following the assassination of Osama bin Laden last May. Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper reports that the visas were approved hours after ISI director Ahmed Shuja Pasha’s visit to the United States last week. It is interesting to note the speed of official authorization of the visas in Pakistan –a country where even basic government services routinely fall victim to endless bureaucratic delays. Does this mean that the ISI and the CIA are back in business? If Pakistani media reports are to be believed, the two agencies were back in business as early as last May. ►►German spy agency accused of playing down stolen blueprints. New reports in the German media say that the stolen blueprints of Germany’s intelligence agency BND may contain even more sensitive security information than previously believed. German newsmagazine Focus alleged earlier this month that the top-secret architectural plans for the BND’s state-of-the-art new building “mysteriously disappeared” a year ago, without anyone in government noticing their absence. Ernst Uhrlau, BND’s Director, responded by claiming that only the building’s car park, cafeteria and energy supply areas had been affected by the theft. But according to Focus and Der Spiegel, Germany’s other major newsmagazine, the stolen documents contain classified plans for the headquarters’ main building. There are now rumors in Berlin that the scandal may force Uhrlau to resign. ►►Ex-CIA operative says he never claimed Israel would attack Iran. Recently we reported on former CIA officer Robert Baer’s warning that Israel was planning an armed attack against Iran. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #477 (Germany edition)

  • German ex-foreign minister in spat with ex-CIA director. Former CIA Director, George Tenet, claims that he discovered “too damn late” that Curveball –the Iraqi defector who became a key source for the CIA and the German secret service (BND)– was a fabricator. But Germany’s former foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, has told journalists that the BND did in fact share its doubts about Curveball with the CIA.
  • German spy chief claims Mubarak to stay in Egypt [unconfirmed]. According to German newspaper Die Welt, Ernst Uhrlau, director of Germany’s BND federal intelligence agency, says he has “no evidence that former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak wants to leave the country, and that his comment that he intends to stay and be buried in Egypt “is credible”.
  • Austrian on trial in Germany on charges of spying for Russia. An Austrian soldier is on trial in Germany, accused of spying for Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) and passing on sensitive information about European helicopter prototypes. Prosecutors at the Munich court allege that the unnamed 54-year-old Austrian army mechanic spied from 1997 to 2002.