Information Warfare: June 24, 2005


One of the more dramatic changes in Iraq over the past two years has been the increase in the number of telephones available to Iraqi civilians. Before the invasion, some 833,000 phone connections existed in Iraq. These were all land lines. Since then, the number has more than tripled, with most of the new ones being cell phones. Equally amazing has been the increase in Internet users, from 4.500 pre-invasion, to nearly 200,000 today. More phones and Internet access has made it easier to spread accurate news. Before that, it was rumors, usually false, that spread slowly via word of mouth and travelers. With more phones and Internet, you can ask questions, and get answers quickly, and this drives out lies and deceptions. 

The terrorists have used cell phones to detonate roadside bombs, as well as to coordinate their operations. It's believed that American intelligence forces have an elaborate monitoring system for cell and land line phone systems, that picks out calls that might contain terrorists discussing operations. The terrorists risk being tracked if they use cell phones, as there have been several instances where arrests have been made as a result of phone taps. 

Most of the new phone service has been installed in those areas (about two thirds of the country) where there is little or no terrorist violence. While these improved communications have aided the terrorists, it has hurt them more. People reporting terrorists via phones or Internet, often get a very swift response. As more Iraqis die from terrorist attacks, more phone calls are made reporting terrorist activity. There have been cases where terrorist gangs have tried to seize all the cell phones used in a neighborhood where their hideout was. 


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