Report: US Expands Air Surveillance Across Africa

Posted June 14th, 2012 at 8:45 am (UTC-5)
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The Washington Post reports the U.S. military has set up small air bases across Africa to conduct surveillance of terrorist groups.

The newspaper, quoting U.S. and African officials, says about a dozen bases have been set up since 2007 in a number of countries. They include Burkina Faso, Uganda, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and the Seychelles.

The Post reports that instead of drones, the program uses single-engine PC-12s flown by pilots. It says the small, unarmed planes are equipped to record video, track infrared heat patterns, and catch radio and cellphone signals.

The paper says the surveillance is overseen by the U.S. military's Special Operations forces but relies heavily on private military contractors and support from African troops.

Targets of the surveillance include al-Qaida-linked militants in Somalia, Yemen, and Africa's Sahel region, and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army in central Africa.

U.S. officials have repeatedly warned of the threat to regional stability presented by such groups and others like Nigeria's Boko Haram.

The Post previously reported that the U.S. has a secret drone program in east Africa and the Arabian peninsula to watch militants in Somalia and Yemen.

The Post based its latest report on unnamed U.S. military and government officials, African officials, U.S. government contracting documents, unclassified military reports, and diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.