Fresh insight into the trove of documents released by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has revealed that US spies intercepted sensitive communications between Germany's security agencies during a kidnapping in Yemen.
The kidnappers came in an SUV. Not far from the northern Yemeni city of Saada, they ambushed a party of picnickers and captured a German married couple, their three children and four others. That was on June 12, 2009.
The Christian aid workers from Bautzen, Germany, were considered missing for five years, with their deaths only confirmed in August 2014. The kidnappers' identities --and it remains unresolved whether they were apolitical criminals or Islamists -- remains unclear.
The abduction in northern Yemen caused a frenzy of activity in Berlin and in the Yemeni capital. Crisis committees were formed at the German Embassy in Yemen and the Foreign Ministry in Berlin. Diplomats and experts from Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) and its foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), frantically tried to obtain background information and establish contact with the kidnappers.
Bad news, however, was soon to follow. Three of the German couple's companions -- two German nurses and a South Korean teacher -- were found shot to death several days after their abduction.