After secret German intelligence was used by the United States to target terrorists in Afghanistan, the German government cut back on the secret information it had previously been passing to the CIA. At least one of the dead terrorists was a German citizen, and under German law the government agencies involved as well as the CIA may be criminally liable for his death.
Many thanks to JLH for translating an article on the topic from yesterday’s Der Spiegel:
After drone attacks
Germany Reduces Sharing of Secret Information
The federal government intends to insure that knowledge from the secret services is no longer used to target and kill those suspected of terrorism. According to SPIEGEL’s sources, passing on information to the USA will have conditions attached.
Hamburg. On the evening of October 4, 2010, three young Islamists — residents of Europe — died through an American drone attack on a Taliban camp in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border area, Waziristan. One of them, Bünyamin E. was in possession of a German passport. At the beginning of January, 2011, that surprised Jörg Ziercke, head of the Federal Criminal Office with a criminal charge for suspicion as accessory to murder.
Since Fall, 2010, several German courts have also been examining charges against the US secret agency, the CIA. There were also accusations against the national police, since it was information from Germany which supposedly led the Americans to the Islamists. It has not yet come to a judicial investigation of the death of Bünyamin E.
Instead, there are consequences on the political level: According to SPIEGEL’s information, the federal government has reduced the transmission of secret intelligence to the Americans in the battle against terror. Apparently, soon after the drone attack of October 4th, the ministry of the interior issued a decree to stop passing on information which could lead to locating German citizens.
Clues that flow into the search lists of the Americans are now to be accompanied with the proviso that they may only be used for capturing, not for killing. The secret service adds to its transmissions the restriction that they are only to be used in prevention of danger or simply reportage. This should preclude the CIA or the American military from acquiring German data for air attacks.
Bünyamin E. from Wuppertal, who was 20 at the time of his death, had been known to German authorities for a long time and was under observation. After the Turkish-German had been trained for armed battle in a camp of the Islamic movement in Uzbekistan, the Düsseldorf prosecutor’s office instituted a procedure against him on suspicion of preparing for a serious act of violence. There were reported indications that he may have been planning attacks in Germany, reported Die Zeit at the end of January. Bünyamin E. was considered by German investigators to be a suspected terrorist. Information about such things has been routinely passed on to the USA since 2001.
So it was in the case of E. After his departure from Wuppertal in the summer of 2010, the secret services had sent diverse information about the young man to the United States, among other things his cellphone number, the cellphone number of a contact person in Turkey, as well as the address of a café in Pakistan.
After the attacks, the minister of the interior at the time, Thomas de Maizière (CDU) had examined the constitutional basis for transmitting information to the Americans. Presently the attorney general’s office in Karlsruhe is studying whether it should institute an investigative procedure against those responsible for E.’ s death.
Whether it comes to a judicial procedure on Bünyamin E.’s death is still an open question. The legal situation is clear: If a German citizen dies by violence in a foreign country, the judicial system is obliged to investigate the circumstances.