BERLIN - Germany’s intelligence services cooperated with the US CIA for years on a database of suspected Islamists and their supporters in Germany, the weekly Der Spiegel reported on Sunday.
Under the codename “Projekt 6” or “P6”, Germany’s BND and Verfassungsschutz intelligence services and the CIA monitored and collected data on Islamists and suspected terrorists in Germany, the magazine said, without revealing its sources.
The US and German services jointly rented premises in the western town of Neuss in 2005, before subsequently moving to Cologne, the weekly said in a pre-release of an article to be published in its Monday edition.
Der Spiegel said the BND had confirmed the existence of the database, but said the cooperation ended in 2010.
For its part, the Verfassungsschutz issued a statement stating that “Projekt 6” was a cooperation between the three intelligence services dating back to 2005 and that the appropriate parliamentary watchdog had been informed about it.
However, the project was abandoned in 2010. The statement did not reveal any further details about “Projekt 6” or what it was concerned with. According to the magazine, the database included the name, date of birth and passport number of a German investigative journalist Stefan Buchen, who worked for NDR public broadcaster, after he contacted an Islamist preacher in Yemen and also visited Afghanistan on a number of occasions.
In the run-up to the general elections in two weeks, there has been widespread disquiet in Germany over reports of sweeping US online surveillance and German cooperation, sparked by leaks from fugitive intelligence analyst Edward Snowden. According to the reports, the US National Security Agency (NSA) has hoovered up German emails, online chats and phone calls and shared some of it with the country’s intelligence services.
The question dividing analysts is whether the public’s anger could blow back on Merkel, crack the armour of the consistently popular chancellor and damage the still healthy poll lead of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU).