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Taliban Demands Downtime on Afghanistan Cellphone Networks 659

faster_manic writes "The Taliban has demanded that cellphone network providers in Afghanistan cease service between the hours of 5pm and 7am each night of the week, as they believe American troops are able to track down Taliban members using their cellphones."
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Taliban Demands Downtime on Afghanistan Cellphone Networks

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  • by mjpaci ( 33725 ) * on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @12:26PM (#22559460) Homepage Journal
    From the article:

    The reason for the threat is the Taliban's belief that American soldiers and rebels within Afghanistan are using mobile phones to track down remaining Taliban members. "Since the occupying forces stationed in Afghanistan usually at night use mobile phones for espionage to track down the mujahideen, the Islamic Emirate gave a three-day ultimatum to all mobile phone firms to switch off their phones from five in the afternoon until seven in the morning," Taliban spokesperson Qari Mohammad Yousuf told Reuters, ironically via mobile phone (and presumably during daylight).
    They're trying to disrupt the Americans' use of cell phones as a communication network for gathering information. i.e. informants all over the country phone in the whereabouts of Taliban baddies.
  • by keineobachtubersie ( 1244154 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @12:30PM (#22559528)
    I was sure I saw a very similar compliant yesterday, and I was right. []

    See you tomorrow I guess...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @12:31PM (#22559562)
    This demand is about proving the Taliban is still relevant to the population of Afghanistan and capable of influencing their lives. They've lost pretty much all of their control over the population's behavior and they need to prove to themselves that they still matter.
  • Re:Stupid (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Firehed ( 942385 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @12:31PM (#22559574) Homepage
    Has that ever been proven? Seems to me that the idea is just some conspiracy theory someone came up with for whatever reason - probably as an excuse to not get his daughter a cell phone.

    It's not like I have cell signal when my phone is on anyways, let alone while it's off. I'm generally labeled as a conspiracy theorist, but this whole idea of always-recording-your-every-word cell phones seems a bit far-fetched, especially given the general incompetence of those in the cellular industry.
  • by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @12:50PM (#22559902)
    I think George Bernard Shaw said it best:

    "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.".

    It's probably not politically correct to point out that in this case, "progress" would mean "towards a Taliban-controlled state which is about half a millennium behind the rest of the world".
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @01:06PM (#22560158) Homepage
    I refuse to believe that the religious reich is a majority. They are a vocal majority, however, and that's what makes all the difference. These "protect the children" groups and the like are also similarly motivated. Unfortunately, votes are counted based on the number of participants. It's very rare when people are motivated to get out to oppose something. Most people who would otherwise have an opinion to express, or none at all (i.e. those who would vote to not change things) aren't vocal.

    It's a shame, really, but that's the way it is.

    Minority interests actually make the rules because the majority are too busy with their daily lives or are otherwise uninterested to counter the few.
  • by SuiteSisterMary ( 123932 ) <slebrun AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @01:08PM (#22560188) Journal

    (picture of the Prophet Mohammed)

    I hereby create the official Prophet Mohammedicon.
    That is all.

  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @01:17PM (#22560360) Homepage Journal
    "You mentioned blue laws.. HAHA.. Here in Oregon, you cannot buy Liquor anywhere but at a state owned liquor store. The state owns the store, then leases it out to a private individual to run. You can buy beer and wine at grocery stores, but not between 1am and 9am. (which sucks when you try to go to the 24 hour supermarkets at 5am to avoid the crowds). All liquor stores close at 7pm, 8pm on friday and saturday nights, and they are closed on Sundays. The state sets the prices of the liquor, because they get a percentage of the prices in taxes. I'm 20 minutes from California border, and can get a fifth of Rum for about $9 from a grocery store down there, but have to pay about $16 for the same bottle in Oregon. I spent a few weeks in WI this summer, and was completely blown away by their state fair. Every food booth there sold beer along with food. (I imagine it had something to do with WI being the brewery state!). In Oregon, you have to have a fenced off area, with guards manning the entrance, ID'ing everyone that wants to walk in. My cousin couldn't enter the beer garden, because her 1 year old son was with her in a stroller, and they wouldn't let her in, she might give alcohol to a minor! Nice to know that Oregon is there to Protect you from yourself!"

    Yeah, liquor laws are the MOST mixed up set of laws that exist...not just state to state, but, even county to county (well, parish down here).

    If you really want to get used to more friendly laws, come to New Orleans. Home of the "to go" cup. I've gotten so used to buying a drink 'to go' down here, that I sometimes forget when out of state, and the bouncer at a bar almost clotheslined me trying to leave with my drink. Hehee...then the looks I get when I forget, and ask the bouncer for a to go cup.

    Pretty much no times down here you can't sell liquor. I came from AR, a 'notch' in the freakin' bible belt...and up there, no alcohol sales at ALL on Sunday, not even restaurants...hence all restaurants were closed, and they used to rope off aisles in the stores that were open...for certain other items that couldn't be sold on Sunday. Since then, the blue laws have been slightly can sell most any item retail you want, but, still no booze in store....only in restaurants that server food, or private clubs. Also, only beer in grocery stores, wine and booze only in liquor stores. It was always 21 to drink up there.

    Imagine how much fun I had when I moved to go to LSU. I went into a grocery store that had a beer aisle, a wine aisle and a liquor aisle. I quickly threw all the food out of my cart...and loaded up with booze!! It was also 18 years old for booze down here at the time. La was pretty much the last state to repeal that....and only due to the oil crunch of the 80's. Before that...the figured they'd lose more in alcohol tax revenue than they would Fed. Hwy funds...but, the oil crunch fscked that up.

    But we have neat things like drive thru daquire stores, and yes we put a LOT of booze in our daquiris. We have to-go is a great place. Hell, until just a year or before Katrina, we didn't even have an open container laws in the cars here...was cool, cop pulls you over, just hand your beer to the passenger before he got to your window.

    Yep, the last bastion of sin....I gotta tell you, I was blown away that they were able to pass the no smoking in restaurants thing here..I really was amazed. I've quit smoking recently...but, I still gotta say, even though it keeps me from temptation...the govt. should not be able to regulate a private business allowing a legal activity within its structure...but, that's another argument.

    Anyway, c'mon down here and party. Alcohol laws are not only more permissive, but, it is cheap down here too....since we in the NOLA area drink so much....they give us a volume discount.


  • by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @01:19PM (#22560380)
    I think your answer is more plausible.

    It prevents any anonymous tips during that period.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @01:21PM (#22560426)
    You forgot about how Jesus blessed the water and turned it into wine.
  • by CptNerd ( 455084 ) <> on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @01:30PM (#22560568) Homepage
    There are whole counties in Kentucky where even beer and wine are illegal. Google the phrase "dry county" and "wet-dry elections" and you'll see where. I know first-hand, because I grew up in one, city of Middlesboro, Bell County, Kentucky.

    What was always interesting was how often the bootleggers sided with the preachers to keep the county dry, every time they held a vote.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @01:38PM (#22560668)
    You should realize a few things ...

    1) all active cellphones can be located (and, with some systems, targeted) easily
    2) all cellphones, whether active or not, can be located (by sending out signals which will provoke a passive response from their antenna's), over a short range (but still a few miles, given enough power in the transmitter)

    So just turning it off, if you want to avoid being targeted, is not sufficient. Either wrap it in a (thin) faraday cage (which will itself be trackable from overhead if it's mass is too much, but hey), or, better, leave it at home. Do not use radio communication equipment.

    Of course for the taliban, there really is only one recourse, give up. Either they will lose gradually, or they will cause massive casualties, which will provoke a really big attack on the population of pakistan (did you know, in reality as opposite moonbat's mindsets, that in the geneva conventions civilians amongst whom non-uniformed enemy fighters are located, are fair game and can be killed. The decision whether or not terrorists are amongst them can (only) be made by a field commander, in short, every bomb short of a nuke would be perfectly legal to shoot into a mass of afghan civilians), and the commander giving that order would go completely free under international law.

    Only civilian prisoners and UNIFORMED enemy prisoners cannot be killed. They can, however, be locked up indefinitely without recourse to trial. For the muslims there is another problem. Anyone who does not intend to respect other's human rights (and muslims don't, declaration of Cairo on human rights in islam, stating that there can be no freedom of religion and that religious discrimination is mandatory, and adds to that that sexual discrimination is also mandatory) cannot call upon the human rights laws to defend him/herself. (article 29 of convention of Geneva, clause c, and article 30 of UNHR)

    And perhaps the US will have problems doing that, but the afghan government (you know the people that actually suffer, not the ones complaining from 5000 km away) will not hesitate to do that. If WWII is realistic precedent, the population fired upon will thank the Afghan government for firing upon them, if it does indeed remove muslim terrorists from their cities and villages (and it will).
  • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @01:48PM (#22560806)

    I love Ben's wisdom, but this quote is being so overused and so often poorly used that it is being diminished.
    The really funny thing is, the original appearance of this quote criticizing the Quakers for not accepting guns when they were being attacked by natives. The "essential liberty" he is referring to is in this case firearms. :) I'm simplifying of course, but I need to stay funny.

    The original quote from 1755 is:
    "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

    He was actually talking about a collection of people who were living on the frontier, and my comment is a gross simplification... it was apparently well-received because he used it many times throughout the pre-revolutionary and revolutionary periods, in many different contexts.
  • by CKW ( 409971 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @02:20PM (#22561236) Journal
    I figured it out.

    The problem the Taliban have isn't that their own cellphones are emitting at night. I'm damn sure they're careful with cellphone use.

    The problem is when NATO electronically sees a whole village *leave* their village at 2am.

    Hmmm, I wonder what town the Taliban just rolled into?
  • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by shiftless ( 410350 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @02:49PM (#22561716) Homepage
    I know you were being funny, but I thought I should add this. It's not like the ISAF would have no idea when attacks are coming without citizens phoning in tips. Last year I spent some quality time at a forward base that would be attacked very frequently, as often as every day, usually no less than every 2-3 days. These guys knew when attacks were coming cause half the time the Taliban forces and their buddies (Uzbeks, Czechs, etc) would come over the radio and SAY SO. Not only do they use unencrypted radio to communicate with each other during attacks, but they like to get on the air and talk to our translators. The translators and the Taliban swap taunts and brag to each other and it's actually quite funny.

    Oh, and another clue when there's about to be an attack: all the locals close up shop and head home at 2 PM, or whatever. Or you see a village that looks like a ghost town when normally at that time of day/night it would be pretty busy. You know there is an attack coming because the Taliban has warned the populace.
  • Informants! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gnuman99 ( 746007 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @03:33PM (#22562514)
    The issue is not some super high-tech gadgets. It is basic intelligence. It is the informants! The informants in the Afghan population are reporting Taliban movements to their local police or military units. That's it. When you turn off the cell towers, then Taliban can move much more freely as no one will be reporting them.

    Taliban is not supported by majority, or even a sizable minority in Afghanistan. People are tired of war. Hell, 25+ years of it in one way or another.

    Furthermore, do you think the women like Taliban? Even if only 1 in 100 women is brave enough to report Taliban movements, that's 1 in 200 people. And I would guess that most med do not want their women bound to their houses either (hey, men don't like the extra work ;).

    Kabul is now thriving compared to when Taliban were in power. Kandahar is even much better off now. People see the change. There are more informants every day. And cellphones are what is enabling them to provide the military/police with intelligence they would never be able to gather alone.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @05:05PM (#22563948)

    I think the cops are probably smart enough to know that a 1-year old kid in a stroller in a packed beer garden full of stumbling inebriated beer bellies is probably not the "safest" place for a child and had to dumb it down for your cousin.
    Let me dumb it down for YOU: a car is a VERY unsafe place for a 1-year-old to be, yet you're allowed to take your 1-year-old in a car, because IT'S NOT UP TO THE STATE TO NANNY US.

  • by Eli Gottlieb ( 917758 ) <> on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @06:11PM (#22565086) Homepage Journal
    I acknowledge that the Palestinians don't exactly have well-trained, high-tech military forces in the way of Israel or the USA. I acknowledge that they consider the Occupied Territories (AT MINIMUM) to be their rightful homeland.

    But this doesn't mean that firing Qassam rockets (which are technically impossible to aim, and therefore of no legitimate military use) or blowing up nightclubs is moral. Hamas, Fatah, and especially Hizballah have all shown themselves able to conduct strikes specifically on Israeli military targets (witness the instigation of the Second Lebanon War) when they want to. But they don't restrict themselves to such actions. Why?

    Because Islamists hold the rest of the world, especially the portion fighting against Islamists, to a higher moral standard than that to which they hold themselves. Which is one of the definitions of "bitchy".
  • by Doctor Faustus ( 127273 ) <Slashdot@William ... d.Org minus poet> on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @06:20PM (#22565234) Homepage
    In a country where the majority of men carry guns, how do you tell a civilian from a soldier?
    And if you're fighting a country with a draft, should there be any ethical distinction?
  • by budgenator ( 254554 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @06:21PM (#22565252) Journal
    But for some reason, they are desperate enough to ask for help in turning the towers off because they think it is how we are finding them.
    There is nothing so troubling as talking to a loved one on the cellphone and hearing artillery incoming and a short "gotta go click" then nothing for 2 weeks. I'm sure that the NSA has a pretty good idea where the action is over there and when somebody is getting their asses waxed and calls for help or to say goodbye, they are really interested in who is getting called and how the dots connect. A couple wash, rinse, repeats and the picture gets pretty clear.
  • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @01:51PM (#22575770)
    Yeah, that's why I think Franklin was jaded. He even relates a story about William Penn's hypocrisy in his autobiography. The story is that William Penn was traveling with a servant on a ship. Another, possibly hostile ship approached and the alarm was sounded. Penn refused to fight and went below deck, but his servant stayed and manned a gun. The ship turned out to be friendly, and Penn than admonished the servant for fighting. The servant said something like, "Master, I am your servant - if you did not want me to fight, why did you not order me to stand down?". The implication being that Penn, when threatened, was happy to have someone fight on his behalf even as he claimed pacifism.

    There are a few other "hypocritical Quaker" stories in there as well.

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