US expands ‘shadow war’ in Africa with spy planes, report saysSubmitted by Kathleen Gee on Thu, 06/14/2012 - 12:54
The U.S. military is expanding its intelligence-gathering operations across Africa, the Washington Post reports, mainly using small, unarmed planes "equipped with hidden sensors that can record full-motion video, track infrared heat patterns, and vacuum up radio and cellphone signals"—part of a "shadow war" against al-Qaida and other militants.
Approximately a dozen secret U.S. air bases have been established there in the last five years, according to the paper, which "pieced together descriptions of the surveillance network by examining references to it in unclassified military reports, U.S. government contracting documents and diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy group." [...]
The spy program is overseen by U.S. Special Operations but relies on help from private military contractors and African troops, the Post said. And while it's not technically part of the White House's controversial drone program—which killed Abu Yahya al-Libi, al-Qaida's No. 2, in a drone strike in Pakistan earlier this month—the U.S. military does use a few unmanned spy planes there, too.