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Post: U.S. Expands Spy Network in Africa


In just the latest of a long string of leaks about the U.S. government’s counterterrorism efforts, the Washington Post has published an exposé of U.S. military and intelligence operations across the continent of Africa, which had previously been covert. The report begins:

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso — The U.S. military is expanding its secret intelligence operations across Africa, establishing a network of small air bases to spy on terrorist hideouts from the fringes of the Sahara to jungle terrain along the equator, according to documents and people involved in the project.

At the heart of the surveillance operations are small, unarmed turboprop aircraft disguised as private planes. Equipped with hidden sensors that can record full-motion video, track infrared heat patterns, and vacuum up radio and cellphone signals, the planes refuel on isolated airstrips favored by African bush pilots, extending their effective flight range by thousands of miles.

About a dozen air bases have been established in Africa since 2007, according to a former senior U.S. commander involved in setting up the network. Most are small operations run out of secluded hangars at African military bases or civilian airports. . . .

U.S. officials said the African surveillance operations are necessary to track terrorist groups that have taken root in failed states on the continent and threaten to destabilize neighboring countries.

Below is a graphic provided to show the extent of the operations. You’ll note that one area of operations is northern Mali — that is, it appears this administration has leaked so much classified information, we’re now even finding out about what’s happening all the way in Timbuktu.