The United States has been expanding its secret intelligence operations across Africa through a network of small air bases in the continent and under the pretext of fighting terrorism. The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that the US military has established some small air bases across Africa and trained many army personnel in a bid to keep crucial African regions under surveillance.
The report, obtained from documents and people involved in the US military project, said that the US has kept small, unarmed turboprop aircraft in the bases which are disguised as private planes.
The aircraft is supplied with veiled sensors that are able to record full-motion videos, track infrared heat patterns and vacuum up radio and cell phone signals. They are refueled on remote airstrips, used by African bush pilots, broadening their flight range by thousands of miles.
The paper quoted a former US commander, who was engaged in establishing the network, as saying that the military has set up a dozen of such air bases in Africa since 2007.
The covert air bases are reportedly situated in countries such as Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Uganda, South Sudan, Kenya, and Seychelles.
The surveillance operations have increased recently as part of a move to “fight against al-Qaeda and other militant groups.” The operations are reportedly run by US Special Operations forces but largely depend on private military contractors and support from African forces.
Meanwhile, following the US Africa Command, the administration has been training and equipping militaries in several countries across the continent including Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia under the pretext of stopping “terrorists from establishing sanctuaries.”
Moreover, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has also increased its counter-terrorism and intelligence-gathering operations throughout Africa.
The US government has repeatedly claimed that such interventions are conducted to fight terrorism. However, it is strongly believed that there are no significant terrorist threats in Africa against the US.