back to article Taliban extends mobile shutdown order

The Taliban has now ordered mobile operators to shutdown daytime access to their networks in the Afghan province of Ghazni. The hard-line Islamic militia says it's annoyed that wireless signals are being used to locate its insurgent gunmen. "We have informed mobile companies operating in Ghazni to turn off their signals during …


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  1. Steve Evans
    Black Helicopters

    Well if nothing else...

    ... you can track them by just waiting for where they order masts turned off... For example in this area for the next 10 days!

  2. Sooty

    should i?

    i wouldn't want to be accused of aiding terrorists, but don't mobiles put out a much greater signal when they can't find a network as they are constantly attempting to locate one?

    simply advising your guerillas to switch their mobiles off when they're not using them would be a more effective solution.

  3. Matt

    Battery Removal?

    Maybe they are all using iPhones?

  4. Scott Silver badge

    Stronger Signals

    I was under the impression that, if you are in a no-signal area, your phone battery runs out sooner because it sends out more/stronger signals trying to locate a tower.

    Doesn't this mean that turning off the transmitters is a good idea because it will help us find these people more easily.

  5. Dave The Cardboard Box

    Operator? Get me Jesus on the line..

    ..sorry, I meant Muhammad, and no cheeky western tricks.

  6. Preston Crow

    A New Network

    Perhaps the coalition should set up their own network.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Stronger Signals

    Location through tower triangulation beats the pants off having people running around a hostile environment with directional aerials trying to find a needle in a haystack. The data is not only used to acquire individual targets but also to establish traffic patterns and target-target associations.

  8. mike panero
    Black Helicopters

    I doubt trianglation

    ...could be used in most areas, not enuff coverage

    Plus Agfa is famous for it hills, not it cyclist

    Is there a backdoor to kill their battery life?

    Stand-by haha

    If push comes to shove I guess we could let off a nuke 700 miles above Agfa & see what shit drops out of the clouds

  9. Simon Painter


    Muppets. If their forces were in any way disciplined then this order would be unnecessary as they could just turn off the phone. This is blatantly about cutting comms to other locals who are unfriendly to them. The US should airdrop iridium phones throughout the areas where the shutdown occurs (having of course fitted a independent battery backed gps chip to them) that way the locals can phone in the the presence of the bearded ones and if the dog haters get hold of them they are traceable.

  10. Al

    Cell tower balloons

    The US army should be floating cell phone antennas attached to stationary balloons (tethered with troops at the bottom) in the areas where the Taliban operate. Create a guarded grid that causes them to expose their positions then blast them out of existence. In this case the troops protecting the floating cell towers would be able to be on the high ground. Since they're wanting the cell phone operators to switch their towers off we'd know exactly where the insurgent transmitters and phones are located. By being attached to balloons they could easily be moved to help triangulate the positions.

  11. Tim
    Black Helicopters

    Got signal?

    Don't want to lose all that useful information about Taliban activity supplied by the local populace.

    It's either time to issue free satellite phones or to start night-time overflights by aircraft equipped with cellular microwave antennae.

  12. Ian Michael Gumby
    Black Helicopters

    I think Tim got it right....

    If you read the last section of the article, the Afghan source said that it was most likely to stop the locals from ratting out the Taliban.

    Makes more sense.

    Of course if the locals are given sat phones, it would be easy to identify collaborators and then the locals get shot.

    I agree that there are other cost effective solutions.

    I don't want to say anything in case they are being implemented.

  13. Moss Icely Spaceport
    IT Angle

    And they are fighting for?

    Better network coverage?

    Faster access to MySpace?

    Free XBox 360's for all?

    The flying spaghetti monster (variant)


  14. Seán


    Where did they get the idea that you can wander around pointing guns in peoples faces and issuing orders?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just look up their address in the DB

    When they bought the phone, I made them register their home address in our government database, so you look up the address and go visit them with your troops!

    Jacqui Smith

    Home Maker ^H^H^H Secretary

  16. Gulfie
    Thumb Down

    Nice to hear...

    ... that the Afgan government and its supporting allies have full control of the country's infrastructure then.


    If there was ever a sign that a different approach is needed after all this time, then this surely is it.

  17. Steve

    It's to silence the locals

    Why would all these Taleban fighters be carrying mobiles into places where they don't want to be tracked? It's not so that they can make calls on them because they're demanding that the network be shut down while they're there.

    It's obviously just to stop other people making phone calls.

  18. Anonymous Coward


    I'm guessing that the secret tech the US claim they have is actually the much under-trumpeted CELLDAR technology developed here in the UK.

    Put simply, the cell towers are constantly pumping out 900Mhz signals into the ether. When that signal reaches something, it changes slightly, be it a person, building or rock.

    Stick a load of monitoring devices around the area and you can quickly establish a baseline of reflected and altered signals, such that when someone does start creeping around later that night - the ether is disturbed and they can be located VERY quickly.

    Quick enough for a warplane/rendition flight/hellfire missle to catch up in quick fashion.

    And no amount of removing batteries is going to keep the tower tech from sussing you. We can't forget that the taliban are free thinking, smart humans too. Even though they are the devil incarnate, Fact!

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Damn.. No signal again!!!

    God Damn It!!!!

    Erm.. I Mean Allah Damn It!!

  20. Kevin Nolan


    For a shower of fundies who banned television and other forms of entertainment isn't it funny when they get pissed cos they get shot at when trying to beat their score in snake?

  21. Simon Brown

    @Al - balloons

    presumeably these balloons would be invisible and not vulnerable to sniper fire...

  22. Paul

    The price for opening Pandora's box...

    At the end of the day, the CIA is to blame for all this for playing such a large part in creating these monsters!

  23. JohnG

    Coalition network

    Like Preston Crow said above, the coalition should setup it's own network. Better still, they should publicise that the network is available for free but only for grassing-up the Taliban and emergency calls. Locals would be able to connect, even without a SIM. The coalition could also use it to track Taliban whose phones have automatically connected when the commercial networks are offline.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who's side are these mobile operators on

    you have to wonder, that's their fellow country men, it just ain't cricket.

    Oh when will we leave, they were meant to get Osama B, and now he is running for president.

    Afghanistan only has heroin doesn't it? Cannot see the point of us being there, we are in recession now, and we can grow poppies ourselves.

  25. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Cell phones listen before they talk

    If a phone cannot receive on a frequency, it will not transmit on it. The towers encode the power they use in the signal so phones will select high power at the edge of a big cell and low power at the edge of a small cell. To make a cell phone transmit with maximum power, reduce the power at the tower to the minimum that the phone can detect and lie about the power output of the transmitter.

    So it seems the locals have a slight preference for foreign troops over the taliban. Perhaps one day they will get to choose none of the above.

  26. michael

    @Preston Crow

    "Where did they get the idea that you can wander around pointing guns in peoples faces and issuing orders?"

    I beleve they copyed the amircans

    ok no need to int it at me I am going

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Black helicopter indeed

    "I don't want to say anything in case they are being implemented."

    Yeah I'm sure the Taleban read The Register, especially the comments section, just for nuggets like J Random's opinion on how to track them.

  28. Nigel

    If I were in the US military ...

    I'd get as many as possible Afghan-special phones out there. They'd look exactly the same as the ordinary models but they'd have a small extra Lithium battery inside, so as to stay turned on for a while even if the user removes the battery. And yes, all mobiles squawk periodically at high power when they can't find a base-station.

  29. Nigel

    The world's biggest hypocrites

    The Taliban are the people whose creed is to return the world to the 10th century and ban everything that's not sanctioned by the Koran. And yet here they are, clearly wedded to their mobile phones (as well as their cars and guns and bombs, all C20 technology). Where are mobiles mentioned in the Koran?!

    "A fanatic is someone who redoubles his effort when he's forgotten his objective". Yep.

    Where's the fizzing bomb icon when we need it?

  30. Anonymous Coward

    I've got a Sony Ericsson W890i phone! Yeah!!

    I can take pictures of ladies wearing trousers (if they want me to)! And listen to "pop" music or surf the information super way!

    Am I safe from Mr Osama Taliban or will he get me down the phone line? - I'm very sorry if I've upset him - I'm just off to burn all my books and forget all my learning I've done.

    "Hey! Mr Taliban handover Bin Laden,

    "the AK 47" etc. etc.

  31. James Pickett

    You have insufficient credit

    I assume these are PAYG phones, which makes one wonder how they pay for the calls. I thought credit cards were unislamic?

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