Snowden Document: NSA Spied On Al Jazeera Communications

Al_Jazeera_AmericaLeaked documents reportedly reveal the spy agency hacked into Al Jazeera internal communications


Documents leaked by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden show that the US spy agency hacked into Al Jazeera’s internal communications, German magazine Der Spiegel reported Saturday.


One of the documents, reportedly seen by Der Spiegel and dating back to March 23, 2006, claims the NSA managed to access and read communications sent to the news organization by “interesting targets.” The German magazine did not specify what those targets were.


This latest revelation, revealling that NSA’s scope of spy programs extended to monitoring Al Jazeera, comes two days after the Washington Post published Snowden’s leak of the U.S. “black budget” for intelligence agencies. That reports claimed that despite massive spending and a broad network of surveillance and international espionage facilities, the US still had ‘blind spots’ where key national security questions continued to elude the intelligence community.


Another report by Der Spiegel last week claimed that leaked documents show that NSA hacked United Nations video calls. The magazine said the European Union and the U.N.’s Vienna-based nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), were also among those targeted by U.S. intelligence agents.


“Islam Is Like a Drug”: Interview with German-Egyptian political scientist Hamed Abdel-Samad

17 September 2010

In an interview with Der Spiegel, Egyptian-German political scientist Hamed Abdel-Samad talks about his childhood as the son of an imam in Egypt, why he thinks Islam is a danger to society and his theories about the inevitable decline of the Muslim world. Despite his own criticism of Islam, he does not find Thilo Sarrazin’s comments helpful for the integration debate, and thinks he is overrated. Abdel-Samad has published a book, predicting the downfall of the Islamic world. Although the number of Muslims is growing, there is stagnation in all Islamic countries and Islam has no convincing answers to the challenges of the 21st century: “It is in intellectual, moral and cultural decline — a doomed religion, without self-awareness and without any options to act”, Abdel-Samad claims.

German film portraying honour killing released at cinemas

The German drama “Die Fremde” (“When we leave”) portrays the subject of honour killings in a Turkish German family. Up-and-coming actress Sibel Kekilli, a Turkish German herself, acts the part of Umay, who grows up in Berlin and gets married to a Turkish man in Istanbul. When Umay escapes the brutal relationship and flees to Berlin, she is rejected by her family and threatened by her husband.

In an interview with Der Spiegel, Kekilli speaks about her role and the significance of the topic of honour killings, which she campaigns against with “Terre des Femmes”. Asked about her view on contemporary Islam and its ability to reform, Kekilli claims that all religions can be interpreted in an intolerant way, and that Turks in Istanbul are generally more open and modern than their German counterparts, who have always lived a segregated life out of homesickness, fear and frustration. As for herself, she cherishes the values of both cultures she grew up with, particularly pointing to the German values she internalised: discipline, free thought and tolerance.

The award winning film was released at cinemas on 11 March 2010 and brings honour killings back on the agenda of the German feuilletons.

Germany to start new de-radicalization programm combatting “home-grown” Islamists

Germany is to set a new focus on persuading radical “home-grown” Islamists who are flirting with terrorism to moderate their views, according to the news magazine Der Spiegel on Saturday. The efforts are to be directed mainly at people who have been raised in Germany, both converts to Islam of German parentage and German-schooled Muslims whose parents were immigrants.

In a report to appear in its issue to appear Monday, Der Spiegel said a “forum” was being set up next month at a national anti-terrorism agency, the Joint Anti-Terrorism Centre (GTAZ), in Berlin to coordinate those efforts. It said the 16 states would also discuss this week how to prevent persons serving jail time for terrorist offenses from recruiting other prisoners to their cause. Der Spiegel said Germany would ask moderate Islamic communities and clergy to speak to them.

Prisons and sports clubs were common places for spreading radical ideas, another news magazine, Focus, reported Saturday. It said police knew of 185 German-raised Islamists who received training in terrorism methods in central Asia, Afghanistan or Pakistan over the past decade, and about 90 men with such military training were currently living in Germany.

Guantánamo prisoner Slahi wants to return to Germany

A Guantánamo Bay prisoner who admitted – under torture – to having organised trips to Afghan training camps for aspiring Jihadists including three of those involved in the 9/11 attacks, says he wants to return to Germany if he is released. Mohamedou Ould Slahi, 39, who comes from Mauretania but lived and studied in Duisburg and Essen between 1988 and 1999, told his brother he wanted to come back to Germany.

Der Spiegel reported that the brother, Yahdih Ould Slahi, who lives in Düsseldorf, received an hour-long phone call from Guantánamo Bay, in which Slahi said he would be asking to return to Germany if he was released. Slahi is seen as one of the most high-profile prisoners held in the notorious prison due to his admission to a string of allegations after being subjected to sleep deprivation, constant noise, sexual humiliation and threats against his mother.

These allegations included recruited Islamists and arranging for 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta to visit a training camp in Afghanistan. He later retracted all his admissions, writing in a letter that he simply said yes to everything that was put to him, to stop the torture.

US asks Germany to take Gitmo prisoners

The United States has asked Germany to accept some Guantanamo prisoners when the facility is closed, the Interior Ministry said Sunday, confirming German media reports. An Interior Ministry spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with the ministry’s policy, confirmed a report in Der Spiegel magazine that the U.S. has provided a list of names of prisoners it would like Germany to accept. “There is a concrete request,” the spokesman said, saying he could not provide any further details. Der Spiegel reported, without citing sources, that the U.S. had asked Germany to accept 10 prisoners. Top-selling Bild newspaper, meanwhile, reported the 10 were Chinese Muslims, known as Uighurs. It also did not cite sources. President Barack Obama has ordered the military prison in Cuba shuttered in the next nine months. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said at the end of April that the U.S. Justice Department is still trying to determine how many of the 241 prisoners in Guantanamo will be taken by other countries. Also at the end of April, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder spent several days privately asking European leaders in London, Prague and Berlin for help relocating prisoners the United States wants to set free. In Berlin, Holder said the United States had made decisions on a group of about 30 prisoners, but had not yet decided where it wants to send them. Torsten Holtz reports.

A tale of tolerance for German Muslims

To Indonesian eyes, there does not seem to be anything special about the photos of soaring minarets and people praying in mosques currently on display in an auditorium in Paramadina University in South Jakarta. Indeed, they seem an everyday thing, much like what you’d see on any ordinary Friday or Islamic holiday. But the 60-odd shots of mosques and Islamic activities in a number of German cities taken by Stuttgart-based photographer Wilfried Dechau have a rather deeper story to tell.

Dechau’s work in the exhibition titled “Mosques in Germany” tries to convey a narrative of minorities, human rights, tolerance and conflict. “I embarked on this project without blinkers and without prejudice, motivated by an almost naive curiosity,” Dechau said of his work. Through his mostly architectural approach, the seasoned photographer, who has twice won the German Photo Book Award, captured images from Pforzheim, Penzberg, Manheim, Wolfsburg, Aachen, Karlsruhe, Hamburg and Stuttgart – all cities with large Muslim populations – during his two-month tour of the country. “All the positive experiences and encounters made my work into an affair of the heart,” he said. “This does not mean that I am about to become a Muslim. But we must talk to each other. That much I learned during those eight weeks.”

It is always intriguing to talk about minorities, a category that the some 3.5 million Muslims in Germany still fall into, despite forming the nation’s second largest religious group after Christians – especially given the Western country has a long history of Islamic culture that began from diplomatic ties dating back to Charlemagne and Caliph Harun al-Rashid in the 8th century. Until the 18th century, Islamic culture was for Europeans something of an exotic penchant from the Orient, documented in various forms of arts, from Karl May’s tales of the Ottoman Empire to a couple of architectural remnants of secular buildings constructed in the style of mosques, according to German magazine Der Spiegel. It was only recently that Germany had to create a different kind of understanding of the “exotic” culture because the Turkish and Kurdistan migrants who brought Islam closer to Germans back in the 1960s have planted deep roots in the country, while still holding on to their religious beliefs.

Jakarta Post

Report: Berlin fears German being groomed as suicide bomber

Police fear that a convert, Eric B, 20, is being groomed by Jihadists to become the first German suicide bomber, according to the news magazine Der Spiegel on Saturday. German police had lost track of B several weeks ago in the wilds in or near Afghanistan, where he was in training with Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), an Uzbek-origin terrorist group regarded as just as threatening as Arab-based al-Qaeda. The news magazine said the fears were based on a recent IJU claim of responsibility which included a photograph of two men: Said Kurdi, the nom de guerre of a man who blew himself up in the Afghan city of Jalalabad, and B, with the implication that B might do likewise. The two men were shown kneeling in the open air next to an IJU banner. The image was obtained in Berlin last Tuesday. B is a native of Germany’s western state of Saarland. IJU is alleged to have recruited about a dozen German converts to Islam. In the report, to appear in its Monday issue, Spiegel quoted German police officials saying the fact that the two men had trained together “makes a future attack by B all the more likely.”

Egypt bans Der Spiegel issue for ‘insulting Islam’

Egypt has ordered the seizure of a special edition of the German news magazine Der Spiegel after it was deemed to be insulting to Islam and the Prophet Mohammed, newspapers reported on Wednesday. Information Minister Anas al-Fiqi took the decision “to defend Islamic values and confront attempts to damage the prophet, the Muslim religion and religion in general,” the state-run daily Al-Gomhuriya said. It reported Fiqi as saying Egypt would not allow any publication damaging to monotheistic religions “because that is nothing to do with the freedom of information that the West talks about”. Al-Gomhuriya said the March 25 special issue of Der Spiegel contends that Islam is a Christian offshoot and contains several images and comments insulting to the Prophet Mohammed, citing a “German orientalist” according to whom Islam incites violence and terrorism. In February, Egypt banned the sale of four international newspapers — Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Die Welt, Britain’s The Observer and the US Wall Street Journal — for publishing cartoons of the prophet. Der Spiegel was banned by the Egyptian government. It is not the regular Spiegel, but a Spiegel Special on Islam in Germany. Actually, I proof-read some of the articles (for example the interview with the German intelligence chief, and the article on the history of contacts between Germans and Muslims).