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Journalist Tricked Captors Into Twitter Access 141

Posted by Soulskill
from the 140-characters-of-freedom dept.
itwbennett writes "Kosuke Tsuneoka, a Japanese freelance journalist held captive in Afghanistan since April 1, was released over the weekend. His freedom came a day after he sent two Twitter messages from a captor's phone. 'i am still allive [sic], but in jail,' read a message sent at 1:15 p.m. GMT on Friday. It was followed a few minutes later with a second message, also in English, that read, 'here is archi in kunduz. in the jail of commander lativ.' The message referred to the Dasht-e-Archi district of Kunduz where he was being held. On Tuesday, speaking in Tokyo, Tsuneoka revealed how he managed to convince his captors to give him access to the Internet. 'He asked me if I knew how to use it, so I had a look and explained it to him,' said Tsuneoka. 'I called the customer care number and activated the phone,' he said."
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Journalist Tricked Captors Into Twitter Access

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  • Jedi-ish (Score:3, Funny)

    by swanzilla (1458281) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @05:54PM (#33502964) Homepage
    FTA:

    "I don't think they realize they were tricked," he said.

    The Force can have a strong influence on the weak-minded.

  • Step 1: Tweet
    Step 2: ???
    Step 3: FREEDOM!

    • Re:step 2 missing (Score:4, Informative)

      by adwarf (1002867) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @06:12PM (#33503192)
      Per this article (http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/6698137-how-abducted-reporter-kosuke-tsuneoka-used-twitter-while-in-captivity) they released him because was muslim... So his tweets had nothing to do with anything....
      • Re:step 2 missing (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hansamurai (907719) <hansamurai@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @09:01PM (#33504510) Homepage Journal

        Well, it says "in part" because he was a Muslim. Probably more in part due to the Japanese government knowing exactly where he was being held so they could apply pressure accordingly. It's not random that a guy goes missing on April 1st, makes a few help me tweets on September 3rd and is then released a day or so later.

        • by Solandri (704621)

          It's not random that a guy goes missing on April 1st, makes a few help me tweets on September 3rd and is then released a day or so later.

          Maybe we're mixing up cause and effect? Maybe they decided they were going to release him, and one of the captors said, "Hey, he seems to know a lot about this Internet stuff. Before we let him go, can I see if he can get the Internet working on my phone?"

      • Except, you see, to provide more tweet porn for the media-masturbation cycle. Nothing gets a journalist harder than a twit.
    • Step 1: Download gay porn to phone
      Step 2: Accuse phone owner of homosexuality.
      Step 3: Volunteer to clean up the phone while your captors stone the phone owner.
      Step 4: Read up on slashdot, dilbert, check facebook, solve an online sudoku, you have plenty of time (stoning is damn slow).
      Step 5: Tweet your location
      Step 6: ???
      Step 7: FREEDOM!

  • Twitter, instead of, you know, email. Because it's more likely to be real.
    • by jpapon (1877296)

      Twitter, instead of, you know, email. Because it's more likely to be real.

      Or maybe, and I know this may be hard to realize for those of us who have had smartphones for years and years, it was just a standard, plain vanilla cell phone capable of only sms and phone calls.

      • According to TFA, it was a Nokia N70.

      • The E70 is an early smartphone. And he had demoed the internet to the Taliban guys. I am assuming, however, that you did not RTFA.
      • The phone, a Nokia N70

        That's a Symbian smartphone. Disclaimer: this info was based off what the journalist said.

        There seems to be a lot of doubt spreading 'round. I'm not sure what motives there are, however. The Afghani scumbag certainly didn't have any motive to play along with the stunt.

    • by TaggartAleslayer (840739) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @07:42PM (#33504016)

      Beyond the obvious fact that he may not have a web mail account, Twitter is a pretty smart choice. He was trying to broadcast to the world that he was alive. If he quickly sent an email to one or two people, it could have been lost or overlooked in a dozen ways. By getting a tweet through he was assured that all of his followers would see it.

      I'd say he may have found the one instance where tweeting is actually a really good idea.

      • by Dark$ide (732508)

        By getting a tweet through he was assured that all of his followers would see it.

        I'd say he may have found the one instance where tweeting is actually a really good idea.

        There's an interesting use of the word "assured". It's a good job his followers weren't using Tweetdeck or he'd still be in jail. Tweetdeck has an amazing ability to hide tweets from the user there's no "assured" about Tweetdeck.

      • by sorak (246725)

        Good explanation. I could imagine his family's spam folder being filled with

        X Not Spam -- Get fr33 v1@gr@ n0w!
        X Not Spam -- i am still allive, but in jail
        X Not Spam -- She w@nt your r0d!
        X Not Spam -- here is archi in kunduz. in the jail of commander lativ.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Goaway (82658)

      Yes, when you get a hold of some guy's phone for a couple minutes, you are going to set up your email account, log in, remember the email addresses of your friends, and send them mail.

      Or you can go on twitter and leave a message that all your followers will see. And no, if you have been missing for months and suddenly post a message, they are not going to think "nah, this is twitter, it's probably fake, we'll just ignore this".

    • by mjwx (966435)

      Twitter, instead of, you know, email. Because it's more likely to be real.

      Twitter, instead of email as it needs to be sent via SMS rather then GRPS/WAP which likely does not have coverage in Afghanistan's southern cave region. Yes, they are services by AT&T too.

  • I thought prisoners were only allowed one phone call in jail!
  • by kurokame (1764228) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @06:06PM (#33503122)
    That is some Odysseus-grade cunning right there. You've done your species proud. Please have lots of grandkids and then tell them about this repeatedly.
    • Let's hope all terrorists/insurgents are as gullible or as stupid as these guys.

      • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

        Ignorance makes you much more gullible.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by timeOday (582209)
        Well, you probably don't know how to butcher a goat, either - "gullibility" and "stupidity" are largely contextual.

        I say, let's hope more of them get exposed to the Internet and the wider world in general because that tends to (though not always!) curb extremism.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by X0563511 (793323)

          The guard did something under the pretense that the prisoner was doing something helpful for him.

          That is stupid and/or gullible.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I say, let's hope more of them get exposed to the Internet and the wider world in general because that tends to (though not always!) curb extremism.

          Not really, it doesn't. If you remember those studies in UK, the second generation of Muslim immigrants was both more outwardly westernized (clothing, behavior, use of modern tech), and much more radicalized than their parent (I think it was 25% saying that they support al-Qaeda?). The Net may expose you to a multitude of opinions, but people are very good at ignoring all but those that tell them what they like to hear; and Islamic extremism has mastered the art of propaganda very, very well.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Eivind (15695)

            It does both.

            Some people embrace the new, the foreign, the unknown, and eagerly incorporate it into their own identity. At least partially.

            Others see it as threatening, dangerous, a temptation to be resisted, and react by withdrawing, becoming more fundamentalist.

            I tend to think isolation and failed integration is the largest enabler for the latter. Too many may live -in- the west physically, but nevertheless have a parallell society with little actual integration. Live in their own areas, go to their own s

          • by hitmark (640295)

            The youth have always been radical in one form or other. It may seem contraditionary, but it is simply them trying to findd their own place in a very confused world.

          • Youth is more radical then their parents... youth just tend to the get confused about what radical means.

            Radical ain't limited to the right... or even the left. Radical just means being extreme in your views. Unable to see the others point of view, convinced your point of view is not only the right one but everyone who disagrees is therefor wrong and unworthy of being listened to.

            Youthful muslims are indeed more radical then their parents. BOTH ways. Some are strongly against the culture they got from hom

            • by stdarg (456557)

              Go to any university and you will find plenty of extremes and very few moderates.

              I've had experiences with 3 universities. One of them, a very expensive private women's college (Wellesley) was as you say, more radical than moderate in many political respects. The other two (state schools) were by far more moderate than extreme, unless you're counting irrelevant things like "how much do you support your team vs. Duke". For the 500 people who go to various political events on the quad and are screaming and shouting about some nonsense, there are thousands and thousands who don't even live

        • Well, you probably don't know how to butcher a goat, either

          Fortunately, there are web sites [goatse.fr] that teach you that...

        • by c6gunner (950153)

          Well, you probably don't know how to butcher a goat, either - "gullibility" and "stupidity" are largely contextual.

          Butchering a goat isn't exactly rocket science - if I picked a random person off the street and gave them a knife, they'd at least achieve the desired result even if they displayed poor technique. Getting tricked into letting a prisoner contact the outside world, on the other hand, is both gullible and stupid. In the extreme.

          On the other hand, since they apparently released the guy the next day, they may simply not have cared who he contacted. The summary only seemed interesting at first because I assume

    • Please have lots of grandkids and then tell them about this repeatedly.

      Tsuneoka: "Back in my day, we only tweeted when we needed rescuing from being a POW!"
      Grandkids "I'm looking at your twitter archive right now. '1/1/2010 LOL, so drunk right now, I can't believe I signed up for TWITTER!'"
      Tsuneoka: "Right. Drunk. Clearly an effort to ward off being captured by islamic militants."

  • Okay, but... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bynary (827120) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @06:23PM (#33503294) Homepage
    ...how was he actually rescued? I see correlation between his tweets and his release but no causation.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by hex0D (1890162)
      there was no direct causation mentioned specifically in the article, but if you apply Occam's razor to the problem the simplest and most likely solution seems: no one had heard from him (probably even about him) and had no way of knowing who he was with or where. Given that specific information it's easy to make the treats or promises to obtain his release.

      And yeah, I know what they say about assumptions but there is such a thing as a safe one.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dzfoo (772245)

        Perhaps his twitter friends did not know where he was, but another article mentions that there had been already five months of negotiations between the government and his captors for release. It also mentions that he was released due to being a muslim.

        In light of that, Occam's Razor suggests that the simplest possible explanation is that those more reasonable and actionable events lead to his release.

                  -dZ.

    • ...how was he actually rescued? I see correlation between his tweets and his release but no causation.

      Its just a coincidence that someone who was released had previously sent out a tweet. My understanding from reading elsewhere (yahoo news) is that the ransom was *not* paid. However since the victim was a muslim the kidnappers felt they could not kill him, so they let him go.

    • Once his captors were connected to Twitter they would simply freeze motionless for several hours, two or three times a day. He merely had to wait for one of these moments and then just walk away.
    • He really shouldn't have disclosed the Twitter connection. Now the terrorists won't let anyone touch a phone!

  • Please stop (Score:4, Funny)

    by Sarten-X (1102295) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @06:29PM (#33503372) Homepage

    Mr. Tsuneoka, the last thing we need is more confusion about the Internet, especially amongst new users. Please stop spreading misinformation, and apologize to those you've misled! In the future, give only meaningful, accurate information to help users understand what's going on. Explain that Twitter is a social network that allows users to reach many the general public, rather than just journalists. Help educate the world!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    And to think so many people devalue the benefits of jailbreaking...

    • In Soviet Russia, phone jailbreaks you!

      ...would have been a really good joke if it had been anywhere other than bloody Afghanistan.

  • Oh, and you losers in Gurgaon...

    Thanks! Good job! We love ya!

  • Ha! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pspahn (1175617) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @08:08PM (#33504190)

    Yes, I find it humorous that some Taliban soldiers don't actually know what the internet is.

    It makes me wonder about all the other modern advancements they are unaware of. Space craft? Aircraft carriers? Oprah? No wonder they are so willing to fight a war against enemies who have such vast amounts of technology at their disposal. If they knew how disadvantaged they were, maybe they would just stop.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      If you have an absolute, unwavering belief that God blesses your fight and guides your hand, and whatever shiny toys your opponents may enjoy are poisonous gifts of Satan that can only lead one to destruction and hell, why would you ever stop, even if it's an AK vs an aircraft carrier? For one thing, if God is with you, then surely the AK is good enough to win - when the time is right - and for another, the worst-case scenario is that you die and end up in heaven (and the bastard that killed you is stuck he

      • by lwsimon (724555)
        Luckily, soldiers with this line of thought also don't think much of using the iron sights on their AKs. After all, if Allah wills it, the bullets will find their targets.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Ah, if only it worked that way.

          I've heard a story about Chechnya, that local Wahhabi terrorists consider underwear un-Islamic because it was not worn in Prophet's times by him or any of his followers. So, they take it, there might be no harm in it, but they cannot be sure - so they don't wear it. And then one Russian journalist noted that Prophet's army didn't have AKs, either, but somehow that doesn't make a connection.

    • Re:Ha! (Score:4, Informative)

      by doubtless (267357) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @11:55PM (#33505290) Homepage

      except that his captors weren't Taliban but a group of corrupt local warlords trying to stir the taliban government.

      this is from his tweet - http://twitter.com/shamilsh/status/23085559558 [twitter.com]

      • by c6gunner (950153)

        Except that the ransom demand was received from the Taliban. You think they've given up the jihad and started a courier business?

    • Yes, I find it humorous that some American soldiers don't actually know who Allah is.

      It makes me wonder about all the other parts of the Koran they are unaware of. Ramadan? Muhammad? The battle of Yamama? No wonder they are so willing to fight a war against enemies who have the vast resources of Allah at their disposal. If they knew how disadvantaged they were, maybe they would just stop.

      • by pspahn (1175617)

        At least you didn't include a FTFY. It is terribly annoying when some stranger assumes they understand your train of thought when they clearly only understand the opposite.

        Truth be told, nothing had garnered more insight into Islam than the current wars of ideology, at least as far as the West is concerned.

        Do I know more about Islam than I did on that fateful morning in September... of course I do. TBH, I recently transfered to a Jesuit university because it was the most distinguished and accepting of the

      • I find it humorous that some American soldiers don't actually know who Allah is.
        It makes me wonder about all the other parts of the Koran they are unaware of.

        That all sounds nice and sensitive and empathetic, but how many other stone age mythologies should they study? Should they be knowledgeable of the differences between the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam? Or the peculiarities of the Wahhabists or the Druze?
        FYI, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Guru Granth Sahib, and Kitab Al Hikma are all sacred texts of large religious groups in Iraq/Afghanistan and their immediate vicinity (apart from the Torah, Old and New Testaments, and Koran). And this does not include other r

    • Yes, I find it humorous that some Taliban soldiers don't actually know what the internet is.

      I would guess that if all Islamic fundamentalists were on the internet and could access the vast wealth of porn contained therein, we'd have less Islamic fundamentalists.

  • by rshxd (1875730) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @08:59PM (#33504486)
    Twitter was used for something useful! Stop the presses!!!!
  • The Afghani soldier just got a Westerner to activate an internet-enabled Symbian smartphone for him.
  • Good minions and henchmen are SO hard to find these days....

  • I'm being held in the castle Aaaaarrrrrrggghhh!

  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @08:52AM (#33507370) Homepage Journal
    I'm a bit late to this story (read it yesterday), but here's a link to the Mainichi Daily News which has an article on the same subject. I did not read the IT World article so I don't know how much overlap there is.

    Mainichi news article [mainichi.jp].
  • Wow, it's a historic moment - the first actually useful message ever sent on Twitter. And the first one anyone ever cared about.

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