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Secret surveillance flights in unmarked propeller planes, drones and inserts an entire network of bases: the United States are expanding their massive spying operation in Africa. According to "Washington Post" drives them before, especially the fear of terrorists.
Washington - The Pilatus PC-12 aircraft is a nondescript. A propeller, depending on the configuration of up to nine seats and plenty of storage space. Among dozens of Swiss design, the machine is in use across Africa, transporting passengers or cargo. Soon, more aircraft will be added. Also, they are inconspicuous from the outside, inside, however replete with the latest spy technology. They are the spearhead of a massive surveillance operation of the United States, large parts of the continent to better control.
According to the "Washington Post" the U.S. military since 2007 has directed about a dozen, a new air-bases. The paper based its analysis on several former high-ranking members of the armed forces who were involved in the expansion of the network. Now to the espionage activities appear to be expanded and accelerated.
Officially commented on the Africa Command of the Armed Forces of the very detailed report of the "Washington Post" no. Gen. Carter F. Ham, who leads the U.S. military on the continent, but had been in March before Congress stressed the importance of monitoring activities in Africa are.
The pattern is the expansion of the network, according to the sheet is always the same: On African military or civilian airports airports were set up its own unmarked hangar. The outwardly civil aircraft use of existing runways. On board, they have video equipment, cameras and thermal imaging technology for tracking and spying on mobile phones.
After its launch from the base, the pilots use a network of jungle trails and dust, to refuel again. Thus, the range of small aircraft will increase dramatically.
This range is urgently needed, because obviously monitor the military personnel on board a huge area. From Burkina Faso to the west of the continent, across the Sahara, the Central African Uganda to Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya in the east reaches of the catchment area of ??the U.S. surveillance network. The primary task is, according to the report, the search for terrorists.
Cheap flying drones instead of expensive
Escalating conflict in Nigeria, where the terrorist sect Boko Harum wins more and more influence, or the proclamation of an Islamic state in northern Mali have led in recent months intensified espionage missions.
Although the U.S. armed forces are in the east of the continent also always a drone - get in most cases, however, normal passenger aircraft preference. This has two reasons: they are much cheaper than the unmanned drones, and can operate completely inconspicuous. Only the Special Forces Command has 21 Pilate machines in use.
The bases are geographically dispersed strategically. Planes depart from Uganda to support the hunt for the fugitive rebel leader Joseph Kony. In the East, numerous machines on the official U.S. military base Camp Lemonnier are stationed in Djibouti. Another presence is planned according to the U.S. report in the war zone in southern Sudan.
Important base in Burkina Faso
A central role in developing the espionage network apparently takes a Burkina Faso. For several years, according to information from the "Washington Post" stationed dozens of U.S. soldiers and private security forces in the capital Ouagadougou. From there, airplanes can quickly reach the edges of the Sahara, Mali, Nigeria and Mauritania - the areas where the expected U.S. authorities with a high threat of terrorism.
Officially, the government also expresses the desperately poor but politically stable country rather not go into detail about the U.S. actions on their territory. In an interview with the "Washington Post" The Foreign Minister of Burkina Faso, however, praised the good cooperation with the United States. This is crucial to control the spread of terrorist networks in the region. "The cooperation is very helpful, but should also proceed further discreet. We can not show al-Qaida our cards," said Djibril Bassolé politicians.