Ng: Bin Laden and his refusal to use phone, Internet-A A +A
By Wilson Ng
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
OSAMA Bin Laden is dead. His death has been all over the news the last few days. They finally located him in a million-dollar house. Until they raided the place, they were really not sure he was there. But there were some very good hints–and it was because of the use of technology or its absence.
That Bin Laden evaded the most powerful nation in the world for ten years is a record by itself – he being probably the world’s most wanted man. And there was one reason he could do it for so long – he persistently refused to use the phone and the Internet.
Phones and the Internet are modern-day tools. Using them can easily give away your location. I am sure that you have seen in many movie trailers how authorities can pinpoint the location of the individual when the person is using the phone. That has applicability in real life.
Locating a person using the Internet is also easy.
I am sure you’ve notice that when you log into websites, these are immediately able to surmise that you are from the Philippines. Even when sending emails, there is an email trail that a professional can easily decipher to know where the sender is from. Thus, it is easy to verify a person’s true location or at least his email inbox.
A few years ago, there was a company that started to send malicious email maligning us. When we were able to get hold of a copy of the email, we were able to trace it back to the company itself. Thus you should be careful when sending malicious text messages or especially email as these are really very easy to trace.
US intelligence officials said that until they sent in the operatives, they really had no confirmation who was actually in that house. But there were circumstances that suggested very strongly that the person inside was indeed the person they wanted, mainly based on a couple of things like:
a.) The occupants did not dispose of their trash. They burned their own garbage.
b.) The house had very high walls and apparently the person inside was very security-conscious.
c.) The house apparently had several people and they probably had money since there were nice cars that occasionally visited them. But it seemed very curious that the house did not have a phone or Internet connection. Isn’t that unusual?
In retrospect, the trait that helped bin Laden evade capture all these years was actually the trait that made US more sure that it was indeed him.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 05, 2011.