On April 11, the IS group sent a message (see bottom image) to all of the Internet service providers still operating in the city that they must provide certain information to the group’s so-called information centre. This includes how many subscribers they have to their service, the full names and addresses of all subscribers as well as information on technology they are using to provide Internet services and how far their transmission reaches.
“If it is discovered that the subscribers’ names are false, or wrong, or if some of the names have been omitted, then the Internet service provider will be held personally accountable,” the message said. Reading between the lines, those running Internet companies in Mosul knew this was a death threat – so they obeyed the orders.
After Mosul fell to the IS group in mid-2014, the Iraqi government disrupted or blocked Internet and mobile phone services in the area. However the IS group kept communications alive by allowing Internet service providers to operate via privately-owned satellite systems that are outside of the government’s control.
As news agency Reuters reported earlier this year: “Mobile networks are largely inoperable in the Islamic State-held swathes of Iraq, areas which also have little fixed-line broadband infrastructure. Militants instead use satellite dishes to connect to the web, or illicit microwave dishes that hook them into broadband networks in government-held areas”.
To access the Internet what is known as a V-sat terminal is needed and then, a subscription to services; the V-sat terminals can be bought for between US$2,000 and US$3,000 at electronics markets in the city, Reuters reports.