Sunday Times revealed over the weekend that CIA agent Donald Rickard admitted to playing a pivotal role in the arrest of Nelson Mandela in apartheid South Africa in 1962, which contributed to the future South African president’s incarceration for nearly three decades.
While much of the Central Intelligence Agency’s movements go under-the-radar, a bit of digging online reveals the agency has been extensively involved in African affairs. The BBC reports that the covert operative extensively influenced politics on the continent during the Cold War-era from aiding in the assassination of first Congo Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba to playing a role in a coup to unseat Ghana’s first President Kwame Nkrumah to aiding Hissene Habre depose Chad President Goukouni Oueddei, who had called on Libyan Colonel Muammar Gaddafi for support.
But the U.S. foreign service’s meddling in Africa didn’t end with the Cold War; it continues into the present-day. Here are five more ways the CIA has a presence on the continent:
- Sudan– The CIA established a relationship with Sudanese intelligence director MG Salah Gosh , who was suspected of war crimes in Darfur. As part of their cooperation, a number of Sudanese prisoners detained at Guantanamo Bay were released to Sudanese authorities in exchange for intelligence on al-Qaeda. The U.S. also has a vested interest in maintaining peace between North and South Sudan as well as in the oil reserves there.
- Burkina Faso– The intelligence agency also operated a classified surveillance program called Creek Sand, establishing a network of airbases used to fly U.S. planes to Mali, Mauritania and the Sahara to spy on al-Qaeda fighters who are part of Islamic Maghreb, an Algeria-based jihadist group. Nearly a dozen airbases have been established within the country, according to The Washington Post.
- Ethiopia– Similarly to the drones the Obama administration have flown over Pakistan and Yemen, the U.S. government also has operated Predator and Reaper drones from U.S. air bases in Dijbouti.
- Libya– In 2011, President Obama authorized CIA agents to gather intelligence for military airstrikes in addition to lending arms and support to Libyan rebels in an effort to overthrow the country’s leader Muammar Gaddafi, who was suspected of aiding terrorist groups and committing atrocities against his citizens.
- Somalia– The U.S. operative also has had a presence in Mogadishu as part of its counter-terrorism initiative, involving air strikes, drone attacks as well as training and advising Somali agents.