Lebanese activists have created a service to automatically identify and track the private planes of Lebanon’s oligarchs and politicians, in response to the elite’s continued lavish lifestyles in the midst of the country’s economic crisis and population’s impoverishment.
The group of three activists, who remain anonymous due to fears over their safety, operate the automated service through the Twitter account named ‘Lebanon Private Jets‘, which automatically publishes tweets after a member of Lebanon’s elite and political class takes a private flight anywhere in the world.
Through the use of cameras with “superzoom lenses”, the activists managed to capture the IDs of incoming private jets and added them to a database of the jets owned by the Lebanese elites. Aside from the ID, they are also able to identify the type of plane, its flight path and, sometimes, its owner.
Speaking to the news outlet, The New Arab, one of the activists told it that, prior to the creation of the service, they were aviation enthusiasts who connected on online aviation forums after finding out they all lived in Lebanon.
Having lost their savings as a result of the ongoing economic crisis which began in 2019, they – like many Lebanese – shared an anger towards the political and business elite who contributed to it and are still living lavish lifestyles, with the youth of the elite partying and jet-setting, while an estimated 78 per cent of the population lived below the poverty line.
Then, during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, when flights were grounded, they noticed planes still taking off from, and landing in the country. That prompted the activists to set up the service with the help of an American college student named Jack Sweeney, who famously created a twitter bot that tracked the movements of Elon Musk’s private jet this year and was offered $5,000 by the business magnate to delete it.
The activist told the paper that “We were a part of that small upper society who are now … barely able to sustain their lives. So we still party with these politicians’ and bankers’ kids, but we are invisibly stabbing their families in the back … with a toothpick.”
They also outlined the importance of private jets in political history as a way for elites to escape accountability. “In modern history, jets have played a major role in every revolution and big political transition – from Ben Ali escaping Tunisia, to evacuation during the fall of Saigon. We are just doing our part to keep a record of every movement.”
Source: Middle East Monitor