Although the most explosive phase of Snowden leaks has passed, they continue to offer insight in many, varied operations of NSA. German paper, Der Spiegel, has now reported that according to another document obtained by Edward Snowden, NSA spied on the communications of Al Jazeera.
Since many years now, Al Jazeera has been broadcasting the statements and videos released by Al-Qaida leaders. It is precisely for this reason that NSA assumed it could gather important intelligence by spying on Al Jazeera. It is not clear whether the employees of the media organizations were also monitored and if so, what was the scope of this surveillance.
According to Der Spiegel, “NSA’s Network Analysis Center managed to access and read communication by ‘interesting targets’ that was specially protected by the news organization. The information also shows that the NSA officials were not satisfied with Al Jazeera’s language analysis.”
Apparently, NSA was able to successfully pin down a few key persons based on this surveillance. The persons were identified as high-value personnel who could aid in aggregating intelligence against Al-Qaida.
The document refers to the mission of monitoring Al Jazeera and spying on it as an ‘operation.’ It is unclear whether this operation was just a one-time attempt to gather intel or if it is ongoing. The example also shows that NSA hasn’t exactly spared the media organizations from the gambit of its surveillance and it may very well be so that the agency is spying on other TV channels too.