Africa emerges as the 21st-century theatre of espionage, with South Africa as its gateway, in the cache of secret intelligence documents and cables seen by the Guardian. “Africa is now the El Dorado of espionage,” said one serving foreign intelligence officer.
The continent has increasingly become the focus of international spying as the battle for its resources has intensified, China’s economic role has grown dramatically, and the US and other western states have rapidly expanded their military presence and operations in a new international struggle for Africa.
The targets of foreign intelligence are myriad, ranging from jihadi groups to economic or technological theft. China has emerged as one of the biggest economic players on the continent, investing heavily in infrastructure, building a strong presence in many countries, in large part motivated by its huge appetite for fuel and resources.
Chinese intelligence is identified in one secret South African cable as the suspect in a nuclear break-in. A file dating from December 2009 on South Africa’s counter-intelligence effort says that foreign agencies had been “working frantically to influence” the country’s nuclear energy expansion programme, identifying U.S. and French intelligence as the main players. But due to the “sophistication of their covert operations”, it had not been possible to “neutralise” their activities.
Read More: The Guardian
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