US Expanding African Drone Network
New bases to target Islamic militants, pirates
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 21, 2011 12:10 AM CDT
Updated Sep 21, 2011 6:00 AM CDT
A fleet of MQ-9 Reaper drones like this one will be deployed over the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – The Obama administration is creating an expanded network of drone bases in Africa, which officials say will help the US target Islamic militants in Somalia and Yemen. A new drone base is being built in Ethiopia, and the US is already deploying drones over Somalia and Yemen from its base in Djibouti, reports the Washington Post. A drone base in the Seychelles will be used to target Islamic militant groups, as well as pirates that plague the Indian Ocean island nation.

Reaper drones deployed from the Seychelles—but controlled from bases in the US—can be configured for both surveillance and strike missions, say officials, who warn that militant groups in Africa are showing a new level of co-operation among themselves. "We do not know enough about the leaders of the al-Qaeda affiliates in Africa," a senior US official tells the Wall Street Journal. "Is there a guy out there saying, 'I am the future of al Qaeda?' Who is the next Osama bin Laden?"