Unidentified sources get to work

Michael Keaney Michael.Keaney at mbs.fi
Mon Sep 17 08:16:11 MDT 2001

Spy base in Yorkshire listens in on bin Laden's phone calls


The Herald, 17 September 2001

      BRITAIN is playing a key role in the hunt for
      Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in last
      week's flying bomb attacks on New York and
      Washington, via the top-secret electronic spy
      base at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire.

      Every phone call, fax, internet and microwave
      transmission in or out of Afghanistan is being
      monitored by the site's joint UK-US Echelon
      surveillance system to try to locate bin Laden
      and his closest lieutenants.

      The network, which is run by America's National
      Security Agency, uses satellites, the GCHQ
      complex at Cheltenham and a series of
      "outstations" globally to sift communications for
      nuggets of intelligence.

      The 1600 Americans and 370 British
      employees at the Menwith Hill facility, seven
      miles west of Harrogate, have been ordered to
      concentrate on pinpointing the Saudi's
      whereabouts to allow him to be eliminated by a
      cruise missile strike or captured in a special
      forces raid.

      His communications are being intercepted to
      build up evidence linking him to terrorist attacks
      in East Africa and Yemen using a
      voice-recognition scanner attached to the
      Echelon network.

      Echelon is also understood to be crucial to
      unravelling bin Laden's labyrinth of front
      companies and offshore bank accounts to help
      the West to strike directly at the funding of his Al
      Qaeda terrorist organisation.

      When the US launched a Tomahawk barrage
      against his Afghan training bases in retaliation
      for the bombing of their embassies in Kenya
      and Tanzania in 1998, at least two of the
      missiles were locked on to the signal from bin
      Laden's mobile phone.

      Menwith Hill's electronic eavesdroppers had
      narrowed his position to the terrorist base at
      Zhawar Kili, south-west of the Afghan town of
      Khost, and then transmitted the co-ordinates of
      his Cellnet signal to a US warship waiting in the
      Indian Ocean.

      The terrorist was tipped off by sympathisers
      working for Pakistan's secret service, the
      shadowy Inter-Services Intelligence agency, and
      switched off the signal before fleeing the area.
      About 20 of his men died in the attack.

      Since then, according to intelligence sources,
      he moves frequently and communicates with his
      overseas agents by encrypted internet

      His constant movement, apart from time spent in
      his virtually impregnable Hindu Kush bunker
      complex, has earned him the nickname of the
      "Islamic Pimpernel".

      A source told The Herald: "The two priorities
      are to locate the man himself and to identify and
      close off his finances. Bin Laden specialises in
      refining other groups' plans and then bankrolling
      selected operations. He is more of a terrorist
      venture capitalist than an Islamic warrior."

      RAF Menwith Hill is known to the NSA as field
      station F83, a codename that belies its
      importance as the largest spy base in the world
      and the principal source of the West's
      interception of international signals' traffic.

      Its "RAF" title is an attempt to conceal its real
      purpose and American ownership. To the
      hundreds of communications experts, linguists,
      mathematicians and military personnel who man
      it round the clock, it is simply known as "The

Full article at:

Michael Keaney

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