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Good Morning, Afghanistan
Flying Radio Stations Broadcast Coalition's Message

Weinberg audio Listen as Scott Simon talks to Mike Linstead of BBC Monitoring Service

Listen to the Listen to the traditional Afghan song Bacha Mashi Mashi Listen to the festive Afghan song "Bacha Mashi Mashi"

Listen to a popular Afghan song about pomegranate seeds

Listen to a popular Afghan song about pomegranate seeds

Oct. 20, 2001 -- Afghans heard something unusual on their radios this week -- music. As Scott Simon reports on Weekend Edition Saturday, the serenade was courtesy of U.S. military planes flying overhead, as part of a public relations campaign.

While listening to music on the radio is rather humdrum by American standards, it is indeed unusual for people living in a country where cassette tapes are confiscated, unwound and hung in the streets to deter people from engaging in such un-Islamic behavior. Since the Taliban doesn't play music on its radio stations, that meant the broadcasts were the products of either America or Great Britain.

 
For the attention of the noble people of Afghanistan. The forces of the United States are passing through your area.  We have not come here to harm you. We have come to arrest  Usamah Bin-Ladin, Al-Qa'idah and those who support him. We  request that you stay away from bridges and roads for your  own safety and do not interfere with the military operation  and our troops. If you follow these instructions no harm will come towards you. Listen

"For the attention of the noble people of Afghanistan:

The forces of the United States are passing through your area. We have not come here to harm you. We have come to arrest Osama bin Ladin, al Qaeda and those who support him. We request that you stay away from bridges and roads for your own safety and do not interfere with the military operation and our troops. If you follow these instructions no harm will come towards you."


Do not come near American troops. Remain in your own homes. We are not here to make your country our colony or to plunder it. When you see U.S. forces and aircraft you should seek protection in some places and remain there until we leave your area completely. Roads, streets and bridges are dangerous places to travel or visit. The most safe place is your own homes. Don't listen to what al Qaeda and the Taliban say. If you follow these instructions no harm will come to you. You should not forget that we do not want to harm innocent people Listen

"Do not come near American troops. Remain in your own homes. We are not here to make your country our colony or to plunder it. When you see U.S. forces and aircraft you should seek protection in some places and remain there until we leave your area completely. Roads, streets and bridges are dangerous places to travel or visit. The most safe place is your own homes. Don't listen to what al Qaeda and the Taliban say. If you follow these instructions no harm will come to you. You should not forget that we do not want to harm innocent people."

- Messages broadcast by U.S. military Psychological Operations


"We're putting two and two together and making four, in the sense that we think this is undoubtedly part of the United States' psychological operations," commented Mike Linstead of the BBC Monitoring Service, which translates radio, television, print and Internet information from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. They detected the broadcasts on the evening of Sunday, Oct. 14 on a seldom-used frequency.

The BBC reports that the station, which calls itself "Information Radio," broadcasts for five hours each morning and evening in Pashtu and Dari, the predominant languages of Afghanistan. Information Radio is promoted in the leaflets dropped with food to Afghans.

The broadcasts emanate from Lockheed Martin EC-130 Commando Solo aircraft, which Janes's Defence writer Paul Beaver likens to "flying radio stations." The aircraft circle in a lazy figure-eight pattern at altitudes up to 20,000 feet, delivering radio and television signals. Transmitters on EC-130s are capable of jamming frequencies used by the Taliban and replacing them with the coalition's message -- that the campaign is against al Qaeda and the Taliban, not civilians.

One of the pieces of music being used by Information Radio to reassure Afghans of the coalition's friendly intentions is a popular number about pomegranate seeds. Under normal circumstances, the song would invoke dancing and celebration. However, these cirumstances are anything but normal.

Other Resources

Listen as All Things Considered host Noah Adams talks to Janes Defence's Paul Beaver about the EC-130.

U.S Army's Psychological Operations Field Manual No.33-1 (from Federation of American Scientists.)

"Psychological Operations in Guerilla Warfare" (document from Federation of American Scientists)