Intelligence: The Darkness Speaks

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September 13, 2015:   A recent analysis of satellite photos of areas controlled by ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) in Iraq and Syria showed some interesting differences. Nor surprisingly much of the ISIL controlled towns and cities (except for Raqqa; the ISIL “capital” in eastern Syria) are conspicuously dark at night. Satellite photos of the region have been available regularly for over a decade and clearly show how the lights go out after ISIL takes over an area.

This is all about much less availability of electricity. It is known that portable electric generators are a popular item in ISIL controlled areas. But these require a regular supply of fuel and ISIL suffers shortages of that as well. There is one difference between ISIL controlled territory in Iraq and Syria. Some parts of ISIL controlled territory in eastern Syria have some power plants back in operation and Raqqa has generally stayed lit up. But when ISIL captures another town or city in Iraq that area is promptly disconnected from the Iraqi power grid. This was particularly noticeable in Mosul, which was taken in June 2014. The city has been largely dark and, according to residents who have escaped, miserable ever since.

The same phenomenon has been seen in other combat zones and has been public knowledge after Google Earth was introduced after 2001. Before that satellite photos like this were considered military secrets and only rarely released.

 

 


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