UK to use Global Hawks to hunt for terrorist in cities

Daily Mail:

A Top-secret US unmanned drone used to locate Al Qaeda and Taliban hideouts in Pakistan and Afghanistan could soon be patrolling over British cities to search for hidden terror cells.

The controversial move would allow MI5 and GCHQ, the Government's eavesdropping centre, to step up surveillance operations over the UK. Until now, the £23million Global Hawk aircraft has not been available for foreign sale.

However, US policy has been quietly changed and Britain is now negotiating to buy the drones. America is keen to supply them for British patrols after a string of terror plots threatening the US and its citizens.

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Britain would not need to use the drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan because the US already provides full air coverage in the region. Instead, it is believed they will be used mainly for domestic surveillance.

The drones are also being deployed by the US Navy in the Caribbean and off the Florida coast to combat drug smuggling. In Britain, MI5 and GCHQ already use three planes based at RAF Northolt in North-West London to spy on citizens.

The three Britten-Norman Islander aircraft are all fitted with sophisticated surveillance equipment. They have been used to track down terror cells and to locate former Afghan veterans who may have returned to Britain to plot terror attacks.

The aircraft are able to identify suspects using 'voice-prints' of insurgents with British accents that were picked up by spy planes monitoring Taliban radio signals in Afghanistan.

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While this would probably set the ACLU's teeth on edge the Brits are used to a more intrusive security service. And, based on recent experience they need it. These planes fly so high, that they can probably cover the whole island with one plane.

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