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US, Israel developed Flame computer virus: report

June 20, 2012

“The United States and Israel jointly developed the Flame computer virus that collected intelligence to help slow Iran’s nuclear program, The Washington Post has reported, citing anonymous Western officials.

The so-called Flame malware aimed to map Iran‘s computer networks and monitor computers of Iranian officials, the newspaper said. It was designed to provide intelligence to help in a cyber campaign against Iran’s nuclear program, involving the National Security Agency, the CIA and Israel’s military, the Post said.

The cyber campaign against Iran’s nuclear program has included the use of another computer virus called Stuxnet that caused malfunctions in Iran’s nuclear enrichment equipment, the newspaper said.

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Current and former US and Western national security officials confirmed that the United States played a role in creating the Flame virus.

Since Flame was an intelligence “collection” virus rather than a cyberwarfare program to sabotage computer systems, it required less-stringent US legal and policy review than any US involvement in offensive cyberwarfare efforts, experts said.

The CIA, NSA, Pentagon, and Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment.

Flame is the most complex computer spying program ever discovered.

Two leading computer security firms – Kaspersky Lab and Symantec Corp – have linked some of the software code in the Flame virus to the Stuxnet computer virus, which was widely believed to have been used by the United States and Israel to attack Iran’s nuclear program.

Reuters

Source: Sydney Morning Herald.

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‘US expanding spying network’ in Africa

“Unmarked planes with sensors being flown between secret air bases and bush strips for surveillance, says report.”

 

“The fleet of surveillance planes is made up of single-engine Pilatus PC-12s [Wikipedia: Creative Commons]

The United States military is expanding a secret network of air bases across Africa in order to spy on al-Qaeda and other such groups, a US newspaper said.

The surveillance is carried out by small, unmarked turboprop planes with hidden state-of-the-art sensors that fly thousands of kilometers between air bases and bush landing strips across the vast continent, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

The programme, dating back to 2007, underscores the massive expansion of US special forces operations in recent years and the steady militarisation of intelligence operations during the decade-long war on al-Qaeda.

Bases in Burkina Faso and Mauritania are used to spy on al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), while bases in Uganda are used in the hunt for the Lord’s Resistance Army, a brutal guerrilla movement led by Joseph Kony, who is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.

Kony hunt

The paper said there were plans to open another base in South Sudan to help hunt for Kony, who is wanted in connection with a series of atrocities and operates in some of the most remote and inaccessible parts of central Africa.

In East Africa, US aircraft operating out of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and the Seychelles archipelago spy on Somalia’s Qaeda-inspired Al-Shebab militia and have reportedly launched attacks on wanted fighters.

The paper said the fleet of surveillance planes is made up of single-engine Pilatus PC-12s, small passenger and cargo planes manufactured in Switzerland.

The newspaper said one of the secret bases is in a secluded hanger in Ouagadougou, capital of the predominantly Muslim country of Burkina Faso in West Africa.

It said dozens of service members and contractors strive to be discreet, but stand out in the city centre and are appreciated for the business they bring to bars and restaurants.

Burkina Faso’s Foreign Minister Djibril Bassole, in an interview with the paper, declined to answer questions about US special forces operations in his country but said he appreciates US security co-operation.

“We need to fight and protect our borders,” the paper quoted him as saying. “Once they infiltrate your country, it’s very, very difficult to get them out,” he said, referring to al-Qaeda.”

Source: Aljazeera News

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