Counter-Terrorism: The Threat You Can Hold In Your Hand


March 27, 2009: In Pakistan, the Taliban are trying to halt the spread of cell phone service into the tribal territories along the Afghan border. The Taliban know, from the experience in Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq and Gaza, that cell phones are a deadly menace for them.

Cell phones have radically changed the way warfare, counter-terrorism and peacekeeping, is conducted. This was most recently noticed in Iraq, where cell phone use went from nearly zero in 2003, to over a third of the adult population today. A similar revolution is underway in Afghanistan, and it already played a role in crushing Islamic terrorism in Algeria. While cell phones gave the bad guys better communications, it also made them vulnerable to eavesdropping. It gets worse. Cell phones enabled people to express their dislike for terrorist violence by quickly and discretely reporting the location and activity of local terrorists. The bad guys have found no countermeasure for this. Trying to collect all the cell phones in the vicinity, or blowing up cell phone towers, merely makes terrorists more hated, and drives more people to risk their lives fighting the terrorists. This is what happened recently in Afghanistan, where the Taliban have made themselves even more unpopular by trying to halt the spread of cell phone service.

The problem is that people like cell phones, a lot. Moreover, while the Islamic radicals can make a religious point in trying to halt the use of music and video, there is no such excuse for going after cell phones. It's purely a matter of self-preservation. So far, the terrorist groups have been unable to stop the spread of cell phones, only slow it down.



Article Archive

Counter-Terrorism: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close