Counter-Terrorism: Do Not Mess With My Mobile Phone

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March 18,2008: In southwest Afghanistan, where the Taliban are strongest, a campaign by the Islamic terrorists to shut down cell phone service at night has backfired. The Taliban have damaged or destroyed ten cell phone towers outside the southern city of Kandahar so far, and forced the cell phone companies to shut down service at night. The Taliban believe NATO is using cell phone signals to track Taliban movements at night. Actually, NATO has several ways to track the Taliban at night. Few in the Taliban seem to understand how ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) works, so these this campaign against cell phones is simply a desperate reaction to many smart bomb attacks, or police raids, on houses where Taliban were spending the night. The Taliban themselves make heavy use of cell phones, especially since service has been installed in many rural areas. The cell phone companies make deals with the local tribal leaders, who want cell phone service. Not so much to call in the police, but to stay in touch with friends, family and the few government services that are available. This cell phone popularity forced the Taliban to compromise, and not try and shut down rural cell phone service entirely. But even trying to shut it down at night becomes one more thing that makes the Taliban unpopular.

There are now three million cell phone users in Iraq, and many rural areas are getting access to phone service for the first time ever. The phones are very popular, especially among the young. By attacking the cell phone system, the Taliban have earned a lot of hostility among new phone users, and caused more people to make that call to the police, to report the activities of any nearby Taliban members.

 


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