The NSA program is believed to be named after the genocidal computer system in the Terminator films
The American National Security Agency, or NSA, has a secret surveillance program called Skynet.
Skynet – a reference to the self-aware computer system that attempts to wipe out humanity in the Terminator film franchise – was used by the NSA to identify terrorist connections.
The secretive program tracked the movements of people within Pakistan using mobile phone data, The Intercept has reported.
It also kept track of people travelling certain days of the week and monitored those who swapped SIM cards on a regular basis.
The success of Skynet was not yet been disclosed
Skynet alerts authorities if the habits matched those of suspected Al Qaeda couriers.
The program was uncovered in a number of documents released by Edward Snowden.
The success of Skynet was not yet been disclosed.
However, it is believed to have flagged high-profile Al Jazeera journalist Ahmad Muaffaq Zaidan as an NSA target.
Zaidan denies any involvement in terrorist activity.
Instead, he argues that it was his profession – which required him to liaise and meet with people from terrorist organisations, including Osama bin Laden himself – that made his movements appear suspicious to Skynet.
Skynet uses phone location and call metadata to asses an individual.
Michael Hayden, a former NSA director, has previously admitted that "we kill people based on metadata".
Osama bin Laden was found and gunned down after his location was revealed by a series of mobile patterns, the NSA has claimed.
Collection of metadata is legal in the United Kingdom, although this ruling is due to be reassessed by the Conservative government in late 2016.