Electronic Weapons: April 24, 2003


: During the Iraq war, the coalition unexpectedly ordered all civilians (mainly reporters) near coalition military units to immediately turn in their Thuraya satellite phones. These phones, made by Boeing, are satellite phones that also incorporate normal cell phone service and GPS capability. The phones were provided by a cell phone company in the United Arab Emirates. Thuraya recently announced that while the phones did transmit the GPS location periodically (to insure a good satellite signal), the information was sent in encrypted form and only someone with access to the codes, or with powerful decryption capabilities, could get the location information (of the phone broadcasting the information). Boeing is a major American defense contractor, and the U.S. has the most powerful decryption capabilities on the planet. It is suspected that the United States did use access to decrypted Thuraya GPS signals to make bombing attacks on known Iraqi government users of Thuraya satellite phones. 


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