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Taliban: Nix nighttime cell phone service

The former theocrats order mobile phones companies to shut down at night over fears of being tracked by American forces.

Afghan Wireless Communication Co.

Hang up, or else. That's the Taliban's message to cell phone companies operating in Afghanistan, whom it suspects of collaborating with NATO to track down its forces.

The displaced theocrats have given the four mobile phone operators in Afghanistan three days to shut down at night--roughly 14 hours a day--or face attacks against their offices and towers, according to Reuters.

The Taliban is convinced the Americans are using mobile phone signals to track down its remaining troops. "Since the occupying forces stationed in Afghanistan usually at night use mobile phones for espionage to track down the mujahideen, the Islamic Emirate gave a three-day ultimatum to all mobile phone firms to switch off their phones from five in the afternoon until seven in the morning," Taliban spokesperson Qari Mohammad Yousuf told Reutersvia cell phone.

Cell phones are almost the only way people in Afghanistan, including the Taliban, can communicate since decades of war have destroyed most of the country's landlines. The companies --Roshan, Areeba, Etisalat, and the Afghan Wireless Communication Co.--are also major investors in the local economy.

One theory is that the since Google Maps can track positions via cell towers, the Taliban thinks NATO uses that same technology to hunt down enemy positions. But by all accounts, American forces and allies rely on satellite technology for spying--24/7.

Meanwhile, British soldiers in Afghanistan have been barred from using cell phones because the Taliban have tapped into them and were making prank calls to their families, according to The Sun, a British newspaper.

In one case, according to the article, the wife of a Royal Air Force officer was informed by someone that: "You'll never see your husband alive again - we have just killed him." Turns out, he's fine. But the British military fears that the Mujahideen may be using the mobile phone-hacking technology to collect valuable intelligence as well, so soldiers are limited 30 minutes of phone time per week, on secure lines only.