ISI hacked e-mails of German police in Afghanistan

Berlin: Pakistan`s ISI systematically eavesdropped on the telephone communication and hacked into the e-mails of the German police mission in Afghanistan and passed on the highly confidential and militarily sensitive information to the Taliban, a media report said today.

The Pakistani intelligence service had advance information about German President Christian Wulff`s visit to Afghanistan two weeks ago and conveyed it to the Taliban, even though the visit was kept a top secret by the authorities until he landed in Kabul, Bild newspaper reported.

Shortly before Wulff`s visit, Germany`s intelligence service BND had warned the Interior Ministry in Berlin that the ISI had penetrated the communication network of the German security forces in

Afghanistan. The BND has established that the ISI gained access to highly confidential information through a security gap in the communication systems of the German Police Project Team (GPPT), which has been training the Afghan police force since 2002 as part of Germany`s involvement in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

A spokesman for the German Interior Ministry confirmed that it had received a warning from the BND on October 11, shortly before Wulff`s visit, that a Pakistani intelligence service may be in possession of extracts from the e-mail communication between the German police force in Afghanistan and the Interior Ministry in Berlin, Bild said. The information received by the BND on the ISI`s espionage activities were "astonishingly concrete," it said.

The Pakistani intelligence service had access to detailed information about around 180 German police personnel stationed in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, Kundus and Feyzabad, the paper said. It listened to their private telephone conversation between Afghanistan and Germany, kept a watch on their reports to the Interior Ministry and their military operations and obtained a complete list of the German police contingent, it said.

These revelations support the view that the ISI "until today passes on militarily sensitive information to the Taliban," Bild said quoting a security expert in Berlin. The newspaper said the German police force may be partly responsible for Pakistan`s espionage activities because they communicated in the past on unprotected lines to reduce costs and thereby "opened the doors" to the ISI.

Shortly after the warning by the BND, all four GPPT locations received brand new computers with the most modern software for encrypted communication, it said. President Wulff was not aware of Pakistan`s spying on the German police mission when he visited their training centre in Mazar-e-Sharif. The German Interior Ministry decided not to inform him about the breach of security, Bild said.

Pakistan`s penetration into the communication network of the German police contingent was detected by accident. Computer experts tracked down the ISI`s footprint when they examined several computers which became extremely slow.

To what extent the ISI collected data about the German police force in Afghanistan and passed them over to the Taliban will be of interest also for Germany`s NATO partners operating in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Bild said. The German police communicates not only with the German soldiers in the ISAF, but maintains close contacts with the military leadership of the United States and the NATO in Afghanistan through two liaison offices.