2022 #OSINT Journalism Review
So, the year is almost over. I look back nostalgically on an exciting and educational 360 days. It’s time again for an end-of-the-season review (adding to it as we go along)…
The Americans are supplying the Afghan military with PC-12 aircraft produced by the Swiss manufacturer Pilatus. Once in the US, they are converted from civilian planes into surveillance aircraft, ready for war. The Swiss manufacturer makes sure that this can be done very easily, with previously installed modification elements such as a tailgate. Quietly and secretly, because officially the aircraft are only civilian jets. Once equipped with the necessary equipment, they guide and direct the fighter jets in the Afghan skies to kill Taliban fighters and also especially civilians. The Swiss claim they have nothing to do with it.
Expert opinion and research suggest otherwise. In February, days before Russia moved into Ukraine, this investigation of ours launched. Unfortunate, as it turns out, because it is a bit lost in the shuffle. BUT the research shows the problem of dual-use goods exported from Western armament factories with a civilian label. There are hundreds of such cases that slip through the net. And many of them remain unexplained. Because western corporations get away with it. Once in a konflict zone, these goods can be used against innocent people and, at worst, benefit dictatorial and inhumane regimes.
From an open source intelligence perspective, Nato coordinates, as well as the evaluation of mission videos of the airmen and reconstructions of the attacks, helped. The most important lesson for me, however, was: HUMINT. That can mean sending a journalist to the konflict zone to cross-check the gathered intelligence from OSINT. Together with colleagues Dimitri Zufferey from RTS, Lighthouse and other wonderful colleagues, this research had laid a foundation for (hopefully) many more similar investigations on dual-use export goods. These will undoubtedly be forthcoming and Id be happy to be a part of it. Because especially now, with the first European war since a long time and the cold war heating up, arms companies smell the CASH (amidst burned corpses).
These multibillion companies will try anything to keep selling their technologies to the highest bidder, which means, the one side or the other of a war. In terms of sanctions and international human rights, this leads to modern problems of our time. Investigative journalists and open source detectives will be on the case.