Radio/Web geek offers inside view of attacks on Libya

'Huub' demonstrates power of a little IT and a lot of knowledge

A Dutch former military guy who is also a combination radio/Web geek is tracking, translating and tweeting minute-by-minute coverage of the U.N. air war over Libya.

In the process he's demonstrating how civilians with inexpensive equipment, a little bit of knowledge and a lot of dedication can make a big difference in world affairs.

The poster child for listening and rebroadcasting "'the truth' without any military or political propaganda," according to an interview in Wired, has identified U.S. psychological operations flights, tracked partially identified U.S. aircraft landing in Tripoli in the days before the bombing and, in one case, warned U.S. commanders that one of its anti-radar planes was flying while a transponder broadcast its identity in the clear.

  • "@USAfricaCommand be advised, one of your WEASEL's F-16CJ from 23th FS Spangdahlem Germany has his transponder Mode-S on! NOT secure!" -- @FMCNL
  • "Hmmm, second fighter showing his ID, a USAF F-15E from 494FS Lakenheath UK, I presume Gadhafis radar equipment has destroyed :o)" -- @FMCNL

During 25 years of tracking secret and semi-secret flights, Huub has tracked the flight of Air Force One, the war in Bosnia-Herzogovina and secret CIA "rendition" flights taking terrorism suspects to foreign countries for interrogation.

He does it combining monitors that let him listen to air traffic control frequencies, real-time aircraft transponder broadcasts, IRC chatrooms and other online data – both to identify flights and publish what he's learned about them.

Among the most interesting are recordings of pilots and air traffic control in and around Libyan air space.

“I use a combination of live listening with local equipment, audio streaming, video streaming, datamining, intelligence, analyzing and the general knowledge of ATC procedures, communication, encryption, call signs, frequencies and a lot of experience on this!” he told Wired.

Kevin Fogarty writes about enterprise IT for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @KevinFogarty.

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