"Operation Calendar Phoenix", secret data war against jihadists

“Operation Calendar Phoenix”, secret data war against jihadists

Written by Elise Vincent and Christophe Ayd

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It is the story of an extensive data war waged for more than five years in the quiet heat of Jordan. A peaceful hunt was carried out with archival sophistication at a U.S. military base located in the heart of the Hashemite Kingdom. The goal of this Benedictine mission: to manage to identify and centralize all traces left by jihadists of all lines everywhere in the world, and to pursue them, even if possible before the courts.

This extraordinary plan, piloted by the United States under the Pentagon, was completely secretive. Over time, though it has been classified, it has been subject to brief references from official sources across the Atlantic and some of the intelligence beliefs aired in some European media. But it was never told in detail. The world It is now possible to publish its origin, function and code name: “Operation Calland Phoenix” (OGP).

A few years ago, a plan similar to the jihadists’ “Big Brother” could not be implemented. In the fight against terrorism, intelligence services have always supported bilateral exchanges by mutual agreement. “Calendar Phoenix” is the exact opposite. Countries that have chosen to be partners, from 2016 onwards, can get what they want when they want. Information sharing is also considered a two-way street. Instead they can pour on their side all the elements they have collected or exploited.

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OGP data is nothing else. This is what scholars call “evidence of war.” They may have been left as traces on the web and social networks or may have been dropped on the ground by jihadi groups or even when they were taken prisoner.

Originally centered on al-Qaeda and Islamic State (IS) militants in the Iraqi-Syrian region, the “Calendar Phoenix” nets now cover Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya and other parts of Africa, particularly the Sahelo-Sahara.

Exploiting ISIS administrative madness

All of the key contributors to this vast collection have, in one form or another, found themselves on both feet in an Iraqi-Syrian burial ground in recent years: the Iraqi military, Kurdish forces, as well as a large number of special forces from countries in the international alliance (such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and France). . During the respective activities, everyone had several opportunities to collect boxes, chips or documents. In the context of targeted assassinations, special forces are also trained in training, with precise procedures for collecting these evidence, photographs and supporting reports.

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