Information Warfare: Making The Wanted Poster Work


November 30,2008: The "wanted poster" has arrived in Iraq, and they are all over the place. That's mainly because they don't get torn down much, and you won't get killed for having, or looking at, one. As soldiers, or civilians, who have returned to Iraq recently have discovered, it's a very different place. Compared to a year ago, there's a lot less violence (about 90 percent less) and a lot less fear. That means U.S. and Iraqi security forces have found that they can use wanted posters on a large scale. Millions have been distributed in the last few months. They contain a picture of the wanted man, his crimes and, most importantly, the reward (usually a few thousand dollars) for information leading to his capture. The widespread use of cell phones makes it easy for anyone to call the listed phone number (an Iraqi police hot line) to give a tip that will, hopefully, lead to that reward.

But the posters have had another important impact. The criminal (terrorists and gangsters) can no longer move around freely. With all those posters and cell phones, the bad guy can be spotted, and have the police after him, in minutes. Walking around with your face covered no longer works either. The police take that as a "stop and frisk me" message. A year ago, the cop might back away from a masked man, believing him to be one of many armed terrorists up to no good. But now the cops have the edge, and use it to go after anyone who is suspicious, or on a wanted poster.



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