U.S. sensors could track any car, all passengers in foreign ciites

Thursday, July 31, 2003

The United States is developing a system that could detect and track insurgents' vehicles in any urban area of a foreign country.

The Defense Department project calls for a command and control system using thousands of sensors to track vehicles in any foreign city. Officials said the sensors being developed termed Combat Zones That See would be able to identify vehicles, drivers and passengers at any time and in any weather.

[On Tuesday, the United States issued an alert of an Al Qaida attack on passenger airliners. The Homeland Security Department warned of the prospect that Al Qaida was preparing five-man squads to commandeer civilian planes, Middle East Newsline reported.]

The Pentagon program undertaken by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is meant to ensure that the United States can detect and track insurgents in any city without the presence of U.S. troops.

Instead, the Pentagon system being developed would allow a regional command and control installation to track the insurgents for special operations forces.

The system would enable sensors to relay an alert for any match of a face of a fugitive in a foreign city. The software would be able to detect a wanted vehicle or insurgent.

The Pentagon has launched other projects meant to detect suspected insurgents. In one program, DARPA has developed software that could scan data bases of credit card, bank and official transactions for a pattern meant to resemble preparations for an insurgency attack.

Officials said the Combat Zones That See project would be introduced gradually. The first stage, they said, would deploy a range of cameras and other sensors linked to a command and control facility to monitor traffic around U.S. military bases abroad.

In the second phase of the project the system would be expanded to detect insurgency activities or suspicious behavior in a foreign city in which U.S. troops operate. The officials did not identify the city, but it is expected to be Baghdad or Kabul.

The project also envisions using existing video cameras in a city to form a huge surveillance system. The Pentagon seeks to develop software that can link thousands of cameras whether in stores, tunnels, bridges, banks or government offices to a command and control facility.

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