India-Pakistan: March 30, 2004


The Pakistani army offensive along the Afghan border has greatly increased the amount of cell phone and radio use by al Qaeda and Taliban groups in the area. Normally, these electronic communications are used sparingly, because it is known that American and Pakistani electronic warfare units monitor all the conversations. But with Pakistani troops moving against al Qaeda and Taliban hideouts, the radios and satellite phones have to be used more often. It takes too long to send a messenger when the soldiers are coming down the valley to get you. Several interesting bits of information have come out of this. First, there was the amount of message traffic in foreign languages. Chechen, Arabic, Uzbek and other languages were heard. Then there were the reports of senior leaders being injured or killed. Today, there were reports of the Egyptian head of al Qaeda intelligence, Abdullah, was killed in the fighting. Abdullah took a major part in planning the 1998 bombings of American embassies in Africa. The radio and satellite phone traffic also provide location information, which means whoever is sending the messages is on the move. The terrorists have long since learned that using electronic communication may be fast, but it also tells the Americans what you are saying and where you are saying it from. The Pakistanis believe that by forcing the terrorists to move, the people from other parts of Pakistan, who assist the terrorists, may be revealed as some of the Taliban and al Qaeda flee the border region for safer areas. The Afghan side of the border is not safe, as it is patrolled by commandos, Special Forces and American infantry. 


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