Taliban cellphone offensive

#1
LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan — Punctually, at 8 o’clock every evening, the cellphone signals disappear in this provincial capital. Under pressure from the Taliban, the major carriers turn off their signal towers, effectively severing most of the connections to the rest of the world.

This now occurs in some portion of more than half the provinces in Afghanistan, and exemplifies the Taliban’s new and more subtle ways of asserting themselves, even as NATO generals portray the insurgents as a diminished force less able to hold ground. The question is whether the Taliban need to hold territory as they once did in order to influence the population. Increasingly, it seems, the answer is no.

Tactics like the cellphone offensive have allowed the Taliban to project their presence in far more insidious and sophisticated ways, using the instruments of modernity that they once shunned. The shutoff sends a daily reminder to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Afghans that the Taliban still hold substantial sway over their future.


Wardak Province, which borders Kabul, is one place that seems up for grabs. It is also where in much of the province the cellphones go down for 13 hours daily. The Taliban view the cutoffs as a line of defense, according to Taliban commanders and spokesmen. When the phones are off, informants cannot call in Taliban locations to American forces who might carry out raids...


But a broader effect is to remind the population that the Taliban, not the government, are in control.


Hajji Mohammad Hazrat Janan, head of the provincial council in Wardak, summed up the situation: “In those areas where Taliban have their direct or indirect control, they demand that the telephone towers be turned off at night from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. So we know they are here.


“There are several reasons for attacking the cellphone towers, but here the locals are hopeless,” he said. “Where should they go and complain? Who should they go to and complain? The government? Innocent people get arrested and get killed by the government, and no one cares about them, so the cellphone towers are very small problems here.”

In some cases, most of a province’s phones may be turned off from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.; in others, the signal may be off 20 hours a day. In some provinces, like Zabul, there is no phone service outside the provincial capital, Qalat, and there it is limited to five hours a day. A handful of provinces, generally those that are more stable, may have only one or two districts where the phones are off in the evening, and the rest have 24-hour service.


NATO has been helping in the construction of cell towers by the Afghan wireless network, on military bases where they would be protected ultimately by the Afghan security forces. So far the number of these towers that are working is relatively small.

A manager for Etisalat, one of the four major cellphone providers in Afghanistan, who asked that his name not be used because he feared retribution, said the company was under pressure from the Taliban to turn off the signal in Kandahar, one of the three largest urban areas of the country.


“The Taliban strongly threaten us if we don’t turn off signal in Kandahar city,” the manager said. “They said: ‘You are equal to the Americans. The actions we take against Americans, we will take against you. Your employees will be abducted, killed, and the towers will be burned.’ ”


“Meanwhile, the government says you should not turn off the signal in Kandahar city,” he added. “They said, ‘We can protect the sites in the city,’ but we don’t believe the government will protect the towers.”


Another benefit of the cellphone campaign for the Taliban is that it does not risk civilians’ lives, which fits with the Taliban’s new push to recast their image.
In full

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/05/w...ns-to-add-to-sway.html?pagewanted=1&ref=world
 
#2
The Taliban strongly threaten us if we don't turn off signal in Kandahar city, the manager said. They said: "You are equal to the Americans. The actions we take against Americans, we will take against you. Your employees will be abducted, killed, and the towers will be burned."
Easy one for the Afghans - The ANA just needs to tell the manager "Turn off the tower and you're no better than the Taliban, so we'll do to you what we do to the Taliban but worse. Your sons will be married at 10 years old to your neighbour's goats, your daughters will be better educated than your sons, your poppy harvest will be burnt and your wife will be shoe-horned into a micro-bikini and made to hold hands in public with men who are not related to her."
 
#3
Easy one for the Afghans - The ANA just needs to tell the manager "Turn off the tower and you're no better than the Taliban, so we'll do to you what we do to the Taliban but worse. Your sons will be married at 10 years old to your neighbour's goats, your daughters will be better educated than your sons, your poppy harvest will be burnt and your wife will be shoe-horned into a micro-bikini and made to hold hands in public with men who are not related to her."
Good lord!

Are you really in in Hamburg?
 
#4
Tongue in cheek.

As someone responsible for keeping the transmitter up and running ,when you receive 2 options:
1. Switch the ferking thing off when I tell you or you're dead meat.
2. Please keep it switched on old boy

It's hardly surprising that option 1 is the favourite. Being as we can't improve on "do it or you're dead", the ANA/ISAF might think about giving the transmitters a bit more ferking cover.
 
#5
Tongue in cheek.

As someone responsible for keeping the transmitter up and running when you receive 2 options:
1. Switch the ferking thing off when I tell you or you're dead meat.
2. Please keep it switched on old boy

It's hardly surprising that option 1 is the favourite. Being as we can't improve on "do it or you're dead", the ANA might think about giving the transmitters a bit more ferking cover.
Or...automate the system forcing the Taliban to either destroy the towers or leave them alone? Place cellphone towers inside military bases which are prone to attack anyway? It would be interesting to know the extent to which this tactic is working; whether the locals suffer it for the greater good or whether they are turning their support to the Taliban.
 
#6
Or...automate the system forcing the Taliban to either destroy the towers or leave them alone? Place cellphone towers inside military bases which are prone to attack anyway? It would be interesting to know the extent to which this tactic is working; whether the locals suffer it for the greater good or whether they are turning their support to the Taliban.
Alternatively of course, anyone who is found fiddling with the telephone system could be placed on the telephone fiddlers register and barred from working with telephones for an unspecified period. THAT"LL larn em!

(also tongue in cheek)
 
#7
every time the ISAF commanders mobile reception dips below 2 bars execute 5 prisoners. and 5 ANA, you can never be too careful.
 
#8
Alternatively of course, anyone who is found fiddling with the telephone system could be placed on the telephone fiddlers register and barred from working with telephones for an unspecified period. THAT"LL larn em!

(also tongue in cheek)
Quite obviously Afghanistan needs to introduce ASBOs- do that and I predict the whole situation will end over night.
 
#9
Quite obviously Afghanistan needs to introduce ASBOs- do that and I predict the whole situation will end over night.
Absolutely! I suspect that you are a magistrate?
 
#10
Absolutely! I suspect that you are a magistrate?
Good god no! But that doesn't mean I'm not aware of how effective the whole ASBO scheme is.

But in all seriousness, I would agree with a previous poster- stick the towers in the FOBs, job done.
 
#11
Yes, seriously, I agree. But whatever happened to tactical overview?
 
#12
NYTimes: Interviews with dozens of Afghans suggest that throughout the country the Taliban have married locally tailored terrorist campaigns with new flexibility on issues like education and business development.
Sounds like The Big Society in action. Nice one Dave.

B
 

the_boy_syrup

LE
Book Reviewer
#14
Hows Chryle Cole gona get hold of that nice young lads she met?

**** sake war is hell the tally bastards, fetch my bloody wellies
 
#16
****! All those years I thought Virgin Mobile had a shite reception and it turns out it was the Taliban's Finchley road posse asserting itself!
 
#17
Placing towers on FOBs is all well and good but if the service providers are told to drop the coverage by the INS then actually protecting the towers is pointless. That's probably why there are reports on US sites of project PALLISADES which seems to be a mobile service that can not be intimidated by the TB. I'm not sure what the tarrifs are but I would imagine the better packages come with a promise not to send a drone strike onto your daughter's wedding party - a sort of family and friends package if you will.
 
#18
Putting cellphone towers in our FOBS is a shite idea. We open move and close FOBs all the time, just not gonna work with a decent mast etc.
 
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