As part of a secret program called “Anarchist”, the United States and Great Britain joined forces to spy on Israeli drone and fighter jet surveillance feeds, according to a report by The Intercept released on Friday. The program was focused on watching for a potential Israeli military strike against Iran.
“Anarchist” was conducted by Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and the National Security Agency from a mountaintop Royal Air Force base in Cyprus, the report revealed.
“GCHQ files provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden include a series of ‘Anarchist snapshots’ — thumbnail images from videos recorded by drone cameras,” the report reads. “The files also show location data mapping the flight paths of the aircraft. In essence, U.S. and British agencies stole a bird’s-eye view from the drones.”
The program was first started in 1998, as reported by The Intercept. ‘Anarchist’ occasionally hacked into the feeds of drones that were operated by Syria and Hezbollah, but most of the effort made was towards Israel, a nation that has for years had a complicated history with the United States because both countries like to spy on one another, in spite of being allies.
The Israeli drones were apparently equipped with missiles, according to photographs from the secret program. On the other hand, Israel has always argued that all of its unmanned aircraft are only used for surveillance, as well as to help fighter jets and other manned aircraft to conduct airstrikes by marking targets.
The report reads that, as stated in a 2008 British military document, Anarchist was a crucial program to understand Israeli military operations and predict potential future developments in the area. “In times of crisis”, such an access was indispensable and possibly one of the only ways to get updated information in order to support the U.S. and Allied operations in the region.
According to several experts in the field of military technology, it is not really hard to hack into a video feed from a manned aircraft or drone. For instance, in 2009 American defense officials admitted in press releases that Iranian-backed militants in Iraq had taken advantage of a $26-dollar software to hack Predator drones’ video feeds. That same year, Air Force officials declared they were working to achieve a complete encryption by 2014 but it remains unclear whether it has actually occurred.
Source: Washington Post