Radical media, politics and culture.

Bavaria Claims To Have Better Terrorism Database Than US

Eric Goldhagen writes

Germany: Bavaria Claims To Have Better Terrorism Database Than CIA, FBI

Report by Christoph Elflein and Tanja Treser.

[Source: Munich Focus in German -- centrist weekly news magazine]
[FBIS Translated Text]

The hunters with their high-tech equipment are based in a barracks from the last century: plain white walls and gray stone floors everywhere. The windows are secured by iron rods as thick as a finger. Behind a laptop sits Gerald Eder, 45, leading chief inspector of the Bavarian Office of Criminal Investigation (LKA). There is a great number of tiny black dots
linked by thin lines on the screen. This is a data cluster of the investigation and analysis system (Easy). It is the holy of holies of the protectors of state security: 12 million data sets of organized criminals and terrorism suspects, including violent radicals such as Islamist preacher Yahaya Youssef from Neu-Ulm.

Daily Life Network

Youssef, a 46-year-old Egyptian wearing metal-rimmed glasses and a full gray beard, is regarded by the constitution protection officers as a hate
preacher. Investigators know at any given moment where suspects, such as Youssef, are; they know their meeting places, are able to listen in on their telephone conversations live, and follow their Internet, communication. At a keystroke, the system tells them who the holder of the connection is.

They know in whose car someone is traveling and for what purposes he uses his credit card or cashes a check. They link records of interrogations or information from the authority for foreigners' affairs.
"We have the best system in the world," is Chief Inspector Josef Geissdoerfer's enthusiastic comment. "The new system that the CIA and the FBI are using in the United States is only able to perform 80 percent of
what ours can do."

Example to Germany

"There is nothing comparable on the level of the Federal Government," the head of the investigation department in the Bavarian LKA says. The interior ministers of the laender have only recently discussed a central terrorism database with their colleague, Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily (Social Democratic Party [SPD]). A working group will clear up details before the next interior ministers' conference due on 18 November. Among these are, for example, whether investigators are to have direct access to data or whether the database only supplies keywords, while
relevant documents have to be requested separately. "The risk potential is high, which is why we have to implement the database as soon as possible,"
says Isabell Schmitt-Falckenberg of the Federal Interior Ministry. Europe is regarded as being under an acute terrorism threat.

"It may be a whole year before the system is up and running." Michael Busser of the Hesse Interior Ministry says. It is as yet unclear whether the Federal Government and the laender have to change legislation. Until now, for example, mixing intelligence and police information in one databank is banned. In reality, however, data is exchanged even now, informally. Gerhard Zintl, head of the terrorism search department at the Bavarian LKA, phones his intelligence service colleague every other day. "This helps us in our investigations. The information must not be used in proceedings, though."

On top of legal obstacles, there are technical ones. The Federal Interior Ministry prefers to play them down. The claim is that the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation has a well-functioning system. Internally, however, specialists have their doubts about its efficiency:
"When you link more than 300 data records, you many safely go away to get yourself a cup of coffee, before you have the result on the table."

The Bavarians are convinced, that here, too, Easy is better. LKA practitioner Geissdoerfer says: "The Federal Government could make use of
our system quickly." Last Friday [16 July], interior ministry state secretaries discussed the Islamism database and Easy. The manufacturer promised within two weeks to make available, free of charge, an operational system that can be used nationwide.