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  Federal Intelligence Service Chief Bruno Kahl on Afghanistan: "It is difficult to speak of success" – Politics | Bit Updates
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Federal Intelligence Service Chief Bruno Kahl on Afghanistan: "It is difficult to speak of success" – Politics

Friday, February 16th, 2018 | bitcoin updates


Mr. Kahl, how many times have you gotten lost in the new headquarters? I have always been well-accompanied and so far not lost. I have not taken long walks alone. Despite the big construction, I believe that you can orient yourself well and get used to it very quickly.How does the relocation of the 4000 employees progress? Since we took over the sovereignty over this house in November 2016, everything has been successful. We did the pilot move much faster and smoother at the end of last year than I thought. 700 employees are here now. In summer, more Berlin employees move in here. In the fall then from Bavaria. We hope that we are complete at the turn of the year. In early 2019, the first ordinary citizens will be able to visit the visitor center of the new headquarters. How to make sure that no suicide bomber shows up We have massive safeguards against threats throughout the headquarters and also in the visitor center. There will be controls, like at the airport. How much transparency can and should the German foreign intelligence service in Berlin afford – as much as possible and as much transparency and protection from discretion as necessary. Of course, we will continue to provide information about our exact working methods and our operations. But we do not want to put our light under the bushel. In particular, the quality work we do – obtaining and analyzing information as well as keeping a global picture of the situation for the Federal Government – is something that we can publicly present. Then we are no longer suspected of doing things behind walls in the forest that do not interest us. What does the move to the new building mean for the fight against terror? The first people who moved in were the anti-terrorist specialists … All are now under one roof, good and open communication between each other is possible – even with the other departments. This creates synergies so that we are better placed to fight terror in this area.

Their terrorist specialists are not allowed to walk around the house, they only have access to their own department. Yes, each area has its own access authorization. But you can use the communication zones or meet for brief discussions. It is not that communication is omitted for security reasons. How can one imagine the work of the anti-terror department? Which instruments can she use? The anti-terrorism department was created shortly before September 11, 2001, when international terrorist organizations became increasingly prominent. This can rely on the usual means and sources: listening to radio signals and other electronic signals, that's what we call Signal Intelligence, abbreviated to sigint, and the use of human sources, which we call Human Intelligence, Humint for short. Added to this are modern technical aids such as satellites and the evaluation of social media and evidence. For example, we try to keep an eye on jihadists who are from Germany and are staying somewhere in Syria or Iraq, so that we can also see when they will start the return journey. The BND may not carry, torture or kill. How do you deal with the fact that intelligence services with which you cooperate in the fight against terror often have completely different rules? We ensure that our German constitutional standards are respected – we agree, for example, that the knowledge we provide However, it can happen that any information you receive is caused by torture, such as waterboarding. We can not understand every piece of information about how it came about. Ultimately, it is relevant for us that we get the information that helps to avert damage from Germany. If there are indications that clues have arisen under considerable psychological and physical pressure, the reliability of the information and thus its usability is autonomously in question.

Then it is inevitable that the BND cooperates with intelligence services of authoritarian countries such as Russia, China, Turkey? Yes, we do too. We also exchange information with states that have not organized their political system as we see fit. Conversely, we do not hold back any information that could prevent attacks in these states. It is a good sign that states, strange as they are, help one another save lives and prevent damage. Is that also possible with the regime of the Syrian dictator Assad? Of course, we are also trying to establish contacts with Syria that are necessary to avert harm. This includes getting information about the IS, Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups that we can get. Where are the limits of cooperation with other intelligence services? We have 450 intelligence partners in the world. We try to work with anyone who can provide us with information. Who are the key partners in the fight against terror? We have strategic partnerships with the major western services, especially in the US, France and the UK. And we are working successfully with regional services in the hot spots of Islamist terrorism. In this group, much of the relevant information that helps us prevent assassinations turns up. How did the NSA affair affect collaboration with the NSA? The US foreign intelligence service has already given the topic of terrorism crucial tips. We have initially taken the foot off the gas a bit to put the data exchange legally new foundations. The new rules we have agreed with the Americans. Now the cooperation is very intense again and we still get valuable tips. In January, Interpol warned against 50 Tunisian IS fighters who are said to have reached Italy by boat. What kind of risk is there on Germany? We talk about it as well as more evidence of danger with the other intelligence services. The BND assumes that the Afghan state security forces 40 percent of their country no longer control … Photo: dpaWissen Where these fighters are staying? We discuss this with the foreign services and our domestic security agencies. Is IS still trying harder than in previous years to bring terrorists camouflaged as refugees to Europe? We did not do that observation. There are cases – such as the attacks in November 2015 in Paris – where refugees were infiltrated in the wake of the refugee flows, which had already had attack plans. But the terrorists are not dependent on the refugees. In addition, there are also refugees who have radicalized here only over the Internet. The IS is increasingly focused on providing guidance on cyberspace deeds. This is a consequence of the fact that IS has lost its territory where it could train fighters. The radicalization of previously inconspicuous immigrants via the Internet is a much bigger problem for the security authorities than the ones who already came to us in a radicalized way. They also observe the Salafists who have left Germany for the IS. How many are still there? About 970 have left, about a third have died, a third are back. We estimate that another third are in the middle and lower Euphrates valleys in Syria, where the IS still controls spaces. These are getting smaller and smaller. Some also try to get to Africa. So far I have not found a return wave to Germany. But these fighters also have women and some children who are trying to come back. Is there any danger from them? This is to be assumed, since they lived in a radicalizing environment. There is caution. In crisis countries, we certainly have the phenomenon that women are available as suicide bombers or that children are being abused as suicide bombers. Many are also severely traumatized. And some children were born there. How dangerous is the IS after the extensive loss of its territory? We still consider him very dangerous. He is capable of doing much damage in Syria and Iraq. He wants to intensify the practice of asymmetric combat, that is, pure terrorism, as before his campaign of conquest in 2014. That means attacks behind the lines of the opponents, including in Baghdad. Although the city is heavily secured, it is still possible to carry out major assassinations. Throughout Syria and throughout Iraq, we expect the IS to continue to be capable of serious attacks. The ability to organize attacks in Europe has not diminished. Does IS still have enough money? IS material resources are dwindling. With the loss of territory, it becomes more difficult to levy taxes and generate revenue at all. But the IS still has weapons and other resources. And his most important weapon remains anyway: the ideology. So it is possible to continue to radicalize people and even with modest material means to become very effective. Where is Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed "caliph" of the IS? We have no secure intelligence evidence that he is no longer alive Having confirmed that ISIS activist Denis Cuspert was killed in January, we have credible evidence that suggests he is dead. The images of the corpse and the locations we have are consistent with what was previously known by him. However, there is no one hundred percent certainty. Western intelligence agencies have been pointing out for some time that the IS experimented with and sometimes used chemical toxins. Is this still happening? There have been observations that IS has tried to acquire such materials. We have to assume that such aspirations still exist. What danger is Al Qaeda still facing? We still believe Al Qaeda is a very dangerous organization. Even though it has lost power due to competition from the IS and from signs of wear and tear in Syria. But Al Qaeda is interwoven in many parts of the world, especially in North Africa, the Arab countries, and Asia. And al-Qaida still has the potential and the interest to carry out attacks in the West.What risk do you see for the Bundeswehr and for German institutions in Afghanistan in general? The Taliban and the IS are able to withstand even the security forces Kabul devastating attacks to commit. This means a continuing danger for German soldiers and German institutions in Afghanistan. It is possible in all regions of the country again and again that it comes to attacks. According to new knowledge of the Americans, the Taliban now have over 60 000 fighters. That's three times what was previously thought. Reliable numbers are very difficult here. You also have to differentiate between fighters and temporary supporters as well as families. Realistically, more than 30,000 active fighters appear to me. How far is Afghanistan in the hands of the Taliban? We assume that up to 40 percent of the area in Afghanistan will no longer be controlled by the state security forces, but have fallen victim to the Taliban and other resistance groups. But the degree of control varies from region to region. Sometimes the Taliban conquer parts of a province, then they are again expelled by the security forces. What happens to stop the Taliban's advance The Americans, along with the Afghan security forces, who assumed responsibility for the security situation in 2015, are trying to push back and decimate the Taliban. Aiming to bring about a weakening of the Taliban in peace negotiations.Isn't it possible to win the fight against the Taliban? It is difficult to speak of sustainable success in Afghanistan. Because of the difficult, mountainous terrain. That shows the story. In Afghanistan, the British colonial empire and the Soviet Union have failed. And even today, it is a challenging task for the security forces to gain control of the entire country. At the moment, all indications indicate that the security situation will not improve significantly for the time being. Should the Bundeswehr again show more presence, including combat units? The BND provides location information, but makes no recommendations. The president of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Hans-Georg Maaßen, says he wants new tools for his toolbox. Are you completely happy? In recent years, the BND has received a lot in the legislation, as well as in the human and material resources. But it is never that you can sit back comfortably. But technical progress shows again and again that nothing is so good that you could not make it even better. We can still imagine improvements, even in legislation. What's missing in your toolbox? Today, communication via smartphones is often encrypted. This affects social networks and messenger services. Since it is very difficult to pursue current communication with the previous means. If it were possible to install a Trojan on the phone of a suspected terrorist in order to track the chats, we would be very helpful. The Federal Criminal Police Office has this authority for the domestic. We do not have them for intelligence work abroad. But that is an issue that has to be discussed in the political committees. The BND can only say what it thinks would be necessary. What improvements has the new BND law brought in your view? The BND now has a solid foundation on which to practice its telecommunications overseas. This means an increase in legal certainty and legitimacy. But the work has become more complex, there are more bureaucratic requirements to meet. But this also helps us to prove that our work is not doubtful. Because it is now allowed to monitor phone calls and e-mails from other governments in the EU too, this must be requested and approved by the independent committee in Karlsruhe. So listening to friends is now allowed …. It's not about listening to friends, but about individuals and institutions in Europe that can not be left out when it comes to intercepting security-related threats. So it has decided the legislature. Foreign journalists must now expect to be targeted by the BND. The Society for Freedom Rights has therefore filed a complaint with the Federal Constitutional Court against the amendment to the BND Act … There has been no change in the legal position. Also in Germany it is allowed intelligence services, if the G-10 commission of the German federal daily agrees to supervise communication in which journalists are involved. The fact that a foreigner pretends to be a journalist abroad can not protect the person from measures that are necessary and proportionate for safety reasons. But "real" journalists abroad would also be affected … If there are journalists in the area of ​​ISIS who communicate with the ISIS and therefore they come on our radar, I would not know why we should stop the interception, just because at the other end of the Kabels a journalist sits. When he talks to an IS man, what he says is of interest. For the journalist, that would have no consequences. As long as he only talks to the IS man and does not raise the suspicion of belonging, no authority will bother him. It is important for the BND to identify security-related content. It's not about pursuing journalists.

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