Invading Mosul; Remembering the Taleban’s Phone Company

Small point, as Iraqi and coalition forces fight to take back Mosul: What happens to phone communications in the city?

Back in 2001, on the eve of the American-led NATO invasion of Afghanistan, I helped a journalist study the Taleban’s phone company — by calling in and having a series of conversations with the main switchboard operator in Kabul. (It was interesting to discover that a New Jersey man had built it on behalf of the Taleban, with an assurance from Bin Laden that “his people would not be harmed.”) Anyhow, as aerial bombardment of Kabul commenced, I kept in touch with the operator and learned that, apparently, pains were being taken to avoid targeting telephone infrastructure. The reason? An American defense expert said, “Simple. If we take out their phones we won’t be able to listen in on the conversations.”

The New York Times described our research here. The Jordanian news service Al-Bawaba reported on it here, and here’s the article in USA Today.

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