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The State of Jihad: 2008 - The Long War Journal

The State of Jihad: 2008
By Bill RoggioJanuary 2, 2009 12:15 AM
The past year has seen significant developments in the Long War. Pakistan teeters on a civil war and a potential war with India, after Taliban gains and an attack launched on Mumbai from within Pakistan. India has emerged as a central battlefield in the war. Iraq has dealt major defeats to al Qaeda and the Mahdi Army, and is moving towards reconciliation. Afghanistan experienced the worst year since the US invasion to oust the Taliban in 2001. A “surge” in Afghanistan will take place this year. Iran is close to developing a nuclear weapon, and the West has no plan to avert the crisis. Al Qaeda is poised to retake control of Somalia. Yemen remains an al Qaeda sanctuary.

The battles continue in lesser known theaters. The US struck a senior al Qaeda leader in Syria, and Imad Mugniyah was assassinated in Damascus. The Philippines made progress against its Islamic insurgency and dealt blows to Abu Sayyaf and the radical Rajah Solaiman Movement. Indonesia has driven Jemaah Islamiyah underground. Algeria fought a low-intensity terror insurgency with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

The following is an overview of the major developments in the most active theaters across the globe in the Long War.

Baitullah Mehsud from a recent Taliban video.


Pakistan remains the central front in the war against al Qaeda, the Taliban, and allied movements such as and Lashkar-e-Taiba. The Pakistani Taliban, led by South Waziristan chieftan Baitullah Mehsud, is in full control of the tribal areas and has gained more ground in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province. The districts of Swat, Shangla, Bannu, Tank, Dir, and Malakand are under Taliban control, while the Taliban has a strong presence in every other district.

As of last summer, US intelligence estimated the Taliban and al Qaeda run more than 150 training camps and maintain more than 400 support locations throughout the northwest. The Taliban has attacked NATO convoys in Khyber and the provincial capital of Peshawar, and forced the closure of the Khyber Pass twice. Despite the rise of the Taliban, the government and military have conducted numerous negotiations with the Taliban throughout the year.

The US has attempted to counter al Qaeda's growth in Pakistan’s tribal areas by ramping up airstrikes against camps and safe houses that are believed to facilitate al Qaeda external operations against the West and in Afghanistan. There were 36 recorded airstrikes and cross-border raids in 2008, compared to 10 in 2006 and 2007 combined. Five senior al Qaeda leaders, including Abu Laith al Libi and Abu Khabab al Masri, were killed during the 2008 strikes.

Map of the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province. The government signed peace agreements in the red agencies/ districts (the military said Shangla was under Taliban control in October); purple districts are under de facto Taliban control; yellow regions are under Taliban influence.

The problem of Pakistani complicity in the global war became difficult to ignore after Lashkar-e-Taiba, with the help of elements within Pakistan's military and intelligence service, struck in Mumbai. More than 170 people were killed and the city was shut down for nearly three days in the military-style assault. Fearing an Indian invasion, Pakistan has redeployed Army units from the northwest back to the eastern front with India.

On the political front, Pervez Musharraf resigned from the office of president and allowed for the successful democratic transition of power after nine years of a military dictatorship. The Pakistan People's Party, whose former leader was the slain Benazir Bhutto, won the election and formed a coalition government. The government has been unsuccessful at reining in the Inter-Service Intelligence agency and fighting the Taliban.

More on Pakistan at The Long War Journal: Main Entries, Today In, News


Ajmal Amir Kasab, outside the train station in Mumbai during the November terror attack.

During 2008, India has emerged as a major theater in the war. India suffered the most attacks and casualties of those countries not currently engaged in active fighting with the Taliban, al Qaeda, and other terror groups. The Mumbai terror attack in November 2008 capped a year of mass casualty strikes on Indian soil. Over the course of 2008, terrorist attacks in Mumbai, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Assam, and New Delhi resulted in the deaths of 332 Indians and foreigners and more than 1280 wounded. The Mumbai attack differed in scope and severity from previous attacks, in that small teams of terrorists conducted a military-styled assault from the sea and closed down a major city for almost three days.

Al Qaeda-linked Harkat-ul-Jihad-i-Islami, Jaish-e-Mohammad, and Lashkar-e-Taiba have been implicated in the attacks, along with the Students' Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and the Indian Mujahideen. Indian and Western intelligence agencies have established that SIMI and the Indian Mujahideen are fronts for the Pakistani terror groups, created to mask their involvement in the attacks.

The Indian government had largely ignored the earlier bombings, but the military assault on Mumbai appears to have brought an end to this stance. Since the end of November, India has pressed hard against Pakistan to close down the multitude of terror groups based on its soil. India is also contemplating airstrikes against terror camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and in eastern Pakistan.

More on India at The Long War Journal: Main Entries, Today In, News

Abu Qaswarah, al Qaeda in Iraq's second in command, was killed in Mosul in October 2008. Image courtesy of Multinational Forces Iraq.


In two short years, the Iraqi and the US and Coalition forces have turned around what seemed to be a hopeless situation. By the end of 2006, many had given up Iraq as lost to al Qaeda, Sunni insurgents, the Mahdi Army, Iran, and death squads. But with a change in the counterinsurgency plan, an increase in US and Iraqi forces, the infusion of new US military leadership, and an expansion of the Anbar Awakening program in 2007, violence was dramatically reduced and the Iraqi government was given the time and space needed to further reconciliation.

Iraqi and US forces followed up a highly successful 2007 by continuing to attack the enemies of the state. The Iraqi government launched a major offensive against the Mahdi Army in Basrah in March. The fighting soon expanded to Baghdad and central and southern Iraq. The Iraqi military quickly caught its balance after stumbling out of the gate in Basrah. More troops were rushed to Basrah and the Mahdi Army was crushed. The US and Iraqi militaries defeated the Mahdi Army in their stronghold of Sadr City in Baghdad, and the offensive was carried out through the summer and fall. The Mahdi Army and the Sadrist movement took such a beating that Muqtada al Sadr disbanded the militia and pulled his party from upcoming provincial elections. In addition, Iran's Ramazan Corps' network was essentially dismantled in central and southern Iraq.

The fight was also taken to the remaining al Qaeda strongholds in Diyala, Kirkuk, Salahadin, and Ninewa provinces. Iraqi forces, backed by the US, were massed for operation in northern Diyala and Mosul. While the fight is still on in Mosul, al Qaeda has few remaining strongholds and has shifted from an insurgency that holds ground to a terrorist movement lashing out against targets. Al Qaeda’s internal communications show how badly the terror group has been beaten in Iraq. Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Ayyub al Masri fled the country and Abu Qaswarah, the group's second in command was killed in Mosul.

The violence in Iraq has been reduced by 80 percent compared to 2007, and the incidence of violence is at its lowest since 2003, when the US ousted Saddam Hussein from power. Al Qaeda, the Mahdi Army, and Iran have suffered strategic defeats in Iraq in 2008, but as US military commanders note, the peace is still fragile. US forces are beginning to draw down, and the status of forces agreement between the US and Iraq stipulates that US combat forces must withdraw from Iraqi cities by the summer of 2009 and out of Iraq entirely by the end of 2011. The Iraqi security forces have improved dramatically and will fill the gaps. The US must remain to provide guidance and support to ensure that the peace remains.

More on Iraq at The Long War Journal: Main Entries, Today In, News

Click to view slide show of the Haqqani Network. Pictured is a composite image of Siraj Haqqani.


Aided by bases, training camps, and a nearly endless supply of recruits across the border in Pakistan, the Taliban has made significant gains in its attempt to retake control of Afghanistan. The government's failure to provide effective governance and legitimate security forces has eroded the public's confidence and provided space for the Taliban to expand its influence. The resurgent Taliban, along with the allied Hizb-i-Islami and the Haqqani Network, has ramped up operations in southern and eastern Afghanistan, and has expanded its control of provinces around Kabul and in the northwest.

The Taliban essentially controls the provinces of Wardak and Logar just outside Kabul, and has increased its presence in Baglan province in the northwest. Attacks are up in Nimroz, Farah, and Herat provinces in the west. Many of the districts in Kandahar province are under effective Taliban control, while fighting is still heavy in neighboring Helmand province. The Taliban has established shadow governments in many of Afghanistan’s districts and provinces, with courts, checkpoints, security forces, and taxation.

During 2008, the Taliban was able to pull off several high-profile attacks in Afghanistan, including an assault on the Serena hotel in Kabul, an assassination attempt on President Karzai at a ceremony outside of Kabul, a suicide attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul, and a series of complex attacks on forward operating bases in eastern Afghanistan. The Taliban has also launched multiple strikes from Pakistan's tribal areas against Coalition and Afghan bases. Overall, IED attacks against Coalition and Afghan forces in Afghanistan doubled in 2008.

This year, the United States will surge approximately 30,000 additional troops, including four combat brigades and one combat aviation brigade, effectively doubling the amount of US troops in country. The full contingent will not arrive in country until the summer of 2009. The US will attempt to duplicate the success of Iraq’s tribal Awakening by courting local tribes in some regions in eastern Afghanistan. NATO has failed to answer the call for more troops, sparking serious concerns about the alliance's effectiveness. Canada will withdraw all of its forces by the end of 2011.

More on Afghanistan at The Long War Journal: Main entries, Today In, News

Sheikh Abu Mukhtar Robow (left) and Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan (faced covered) in a propaganda video acquired by The Long War Journal.


Al Qaeda-backed As Shabaab, or the Somali Youth Movement, and allied Islamist insurgent groups are prepared to retake control of Somalia after a year of gains in central and southern Somalia. The Islamist groups have taken control over the entire southern and central regions of Somalia, while the rump Transitional Federal Government controls pockets in Mogadishu and Baidoa. Shabaab has also successfully conducted suicide attacks in the semi-autonomous regions of Puntland and Somaliland.

Al Qaeda has effectively reestablished its training camps in southern Somalia. Shabaab has officially requested to join al Qaeda, and the request has been welcomed by senior al Qaeda leaders.

The US conducted several 'over the horizon' airstrikes in an effort to take out senior Shabaab and al Qaeda leaders operating in southern Somalia. Aden Hashi Ayro was killed in one such strike in May of 2008.

The African Union failed to provide the required number of peacekeepers; only one-quarter of the pledged troops arrived. Ethiopia, which invaded Somalia at the end of 2006 to oust the Islamic Courts Union, is prepared to withdraw its thousands of troops in early 2009.

More on Somalia at The Long War Journal: Main Entries, Today In, News

Flash Presentation on the Ramazan Corps and the Iranian Ratlines into Iraq. Click the map to view. A Flash Player is required to view, click to download.


Iran continues to be one of the largest state sponsors of terror, and at the same time the nation continues its pursuit of a nuclear weapons program. During 2008, the West failed to come up with a comprehensive plan to deal with Iran's nuclear program. The United States has resorted to sanctioning groups and individuals behind Iran's nuclear program. Banks, shipping and weapons companies, and members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps have been placed on the US Treasury's list of sanctioned organizations.

Iran suffered a strategic defeat in Iraq with the US and Iraq efforts to dismantle the Iranian-backed Mahdi Army and Iran's Ramazan Corps network that moved weapons, money, and fighters into the theater. More than 10 Iranian agents were killed or captured inside Iraq last year. Although Iran still has influence and maintains the ability to conduct operations in Iraq, its power in Iraq has been greatly diminished.

In Lebanon, Iran's proxy Hezbollah was able to force the government to include them in the government and give the terror group veto power over government decisions. Hezbollah's ascent to power occurred after days of street fighting in Beirut and in the North between its armed wing and the various armed factions in Lebanon. The Lebanese Army sat out of the fighting.

More on Iran at The Long War Journal: Main Entries, Today In, News

Hamza Ali Saleh al Dhayani, al Qaeda's leader in Yemen.


After Pakistan, Yemen is considered to be one of the largest havens for al Qaeda. Many powerful elements within Yemen's government support al Qaeda's presence. Thousands of Yemeni fighters returned from Iraq since mid-2007. Many have served in militias sponsored by the government to fight opposition groups. Yemen routinely frees jailed al Qaeda members.

Al Qaeda in Yemen conducted multiple suicide and conventional attacks against foreigners and Yemen's oil industry. The most high-profile attack took place in the capital after a suicide bomber breached the outer gate of the US Embassy. An assault team managed to enter the outer security barrier before the attack was thwarted.

The Yemeni prisons remain a revolving door for al Qaeda operatives captured in the country. A Yemeni appeals court reduced Jaber Elbanah's 10-year jail term to five years. Elbanah is wanted by the US for providing material support to Al Qaeda and is believed to have helped recruit the Lackawanna Six. A Yemeni court released Elbanah on bail in February 2008.

In August 2008, Yemen's new vice and virtue committee elected Sheikh Abdulmajid al Zindani as its president. Zindani was named by the US Treasury as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist and a bin Laden loyalist.

More on Yemen at The Long War Journal: Main Entries, Today In, News

Imad Mugniyah, Iranian operative and leader of Hezbollah's military wing, was killed in Damascus, Syria. Click image to view.


Syria has long supported or looked the other way as al Qaeda and Sunni insurgents used the country as a transit point and safe haven for fighters entering western Iraq. More than 90 percent of the suicide bombers have been estimated to have entered Iraq via Syria.

The US sent a strong message to Syria in October 2008 when it launched the first recorded cross-border strike inside the country since the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Nine terrorists were reported killed after US commandos dropped from helicopters conducted a raid in eastern Syria. The target was Abu Ghadiya, a senior al Qaeda leader who had been in charge of the Syrian facilitation network since 2005. Ghadiya and his staff were killed in the attack.

Earlier in the year, Imad Mugniyah, the leader of Hezbollah’s military wing and a senior officer in Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, was killed in car bombing in the capital of Damascus. It is thought that Israeli intelligence was behind the attack. Mugniyah, a pioneer in modern terrorism, was behind numerous terror attacks throughout the world, including the 1983 Beirut suicide attacks that killed 241 US Marines and 58 French paratroopers.

More on Syria at The Long War Journal: Main Entries,Today In, and News


Talks between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the government broke down after MILF conducted several terrorist and military attacks against villages in areas adjacent to MILF control. The government launched offensives and overran several MILF camps. The Philippine armed forces killed several mid-level Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah leaders during clashes in 2008. Senior Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah leaders, including Dulmatin, are still believed to shelter in MILF camps. The allied Rajah Solaiman Movement is thought to have been dismantled.

More on the Philippines at The Long War Journal: Main Entries, Today In, News


Jemaah Islamiyah, al Qaeda's Southeast Asia affiliate, has largely gone underground in Indonesia after senior leaders in the group have been killed or captured. Indonesia finally executed Bali bombers Amrozi, Mukhlas, and Imam Samudra. In April, an Indonesian court sentenced Jemaah Islamiyah leaders Abu Dujana and Zarkasih to 15 years in prison each after they were found guilty of terrorism charges. But in a disturbing development, a song recorded on a cell phone by Imam Samudra became a top hit in the country.

More on Indonesia at The Long War Journal: Today In, News


After conducting multiple high profile attacks against government institutions and international agencies in 2007, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s operations took the form of a terrorist insurgency. Al Qaeda targeted security patrols and installations with small scale military attacks and suicide strikes. The vast majority of these attacks took place over the summer. The government said 185 al Qaeda members, including emirs and foreign fighters, have been killed in 2008. There have been no suicide attacks since August.

More on Algeria at The Long War Journal: Main Entries, Today In, News

Israel & the Palestinian Territories

Major fighting broke out between Israel and the Hamas-led government in the Gaza strip after the six-month truce between the two expired at the end of December. Hamas and allied terror groups launched scores of rockets into southern Israel three days prior to the expiration of the truce. Israel responded by launching a major air campaign that targeted Hamas security installations, rocket launch sites, weapons and ammunition storage depots, and the homes of senior Hamas leaders and military commanders. After five days of fighting, more than 340 terrorists and 60 civilians were killed. Israel has called up reserves and hinted it may conduct group operations. Iran and Hezbollah, two Shia entities, have backed the Sunni Hamas, while the Arab nations have refused to back Hamas but have called for an end to the fighting.

More on Israel at The Long War Journal: Main Entries, Today In, News

Monday, December 29, 2008

LG's New iPhone Killer Is Wearable

LG's New iPhone Killer Is Wearable

LG's New iPhone Killer Is Wearable
Dan Frommer | December 29, 2008 4:45 PM
Korean electronics giant LG is going to try to sell a 3G cellphone watch next year.

In the center of the watch face is a 1.4-inch touchscreen display that is used for most interaction. It is used as the keypad when making a call, for example. There are also buttons down the side of the phone's body.

The WCDMA (wideband code division multiple access) phone supports the latest 7.2Mbps HSDPA (high-speed downlink packet access) data system, so downloads should be fast. It can also make video calls via a small camera above the top right corner of the screen.

Other features include Bluetooth, an MP3 player, a speakerphone and a text-to-speech function. The handset is also waterproof. - 160 Characters or Less - 160 Characters or Less

160 Characters or Less
When it comes to getting as close as possible to customers, tiny text messages hit the bull’s-eye
By Bill Siwicki
E-commerce without the Internet: That may have sounded like an absurdity to many retailers in 2007, but in 2008 it became a reality—one giant leap for m-commerce. Inc. was the Neil Armstrong of text message retailing when last spring it introduced TextBuyIt. QVC Inc. followed in the fall with QVC Text Ordering. The key: Purchasing merchandise through text messaging does not require a mobile web site or even mobile Internet access because text messages flow through wireless voice connections.

So, for example, a consumer is relaxing on her couch watching a QVC program. The hosts are showcasing a product she decides is for her. She already has an account with default payment and shipping information and has registered her mobile number with the retailer. She texts ONAIR to QVC’s short code—an abbreviated phone number used in text messaging. Within seconds she receives a reply text message asking her to confirm her order, which she does with a second text message. QVC sends a final text message confirming her order and informing her of an estimated delivery date. That’s it.

The use of text messages by retailers is growing. Some retailers, such as Moosejaw Mountaineering, were sending marketing text messages as far back as 2004. Last year, though, there was a bumper crop of texting efforts. and QVC offer text message purchasing. Some other retailers have experimented with advertising short codes on TV and in magazines to enable consumers to receive free samples of merchandise. Most retailers using texts today, though, do so to market products or offer promotions, as well as establish perhaps the closest connection possible with customers, since most consumers are almost never without their mobile phones.

And most consumers are now texting—it’s no longer the province of frenetic teens. 77% of the 259 million U.S. mobile phone users subscribe to or purchase text message capability, research firm Nielsen Mobile reports.

In fact, text messaging has become so pervasive that U.S. mobile subscribers now send and receive more text messages in a month than they do phone calls–an average of 357 per month in Q2 compared with 204 phone calls, Nielsen Mobile reports.

What’s more, many text messagers like to shop on the web. 20%, or 51.8 million, spend more than $1,000 online annually versus 17% of all mobile phone users, Scarborough Research reports.

Buying sans the web

The big news in texting last year came when introduced TextBuyIt. customers who have accounts with default shipping and payment information via the e-commerce site can find a product they’re looking for and complete a purchase using TextBuyIt.

A customer sends a text message to the short code AMAZON (262966) with the name of a product, search term or UPC bar code number, or ISBN code for books, and within seconds replies with a list of products that match the search, along with prices.

To buy an item, a customer replies to the text message by entering only the single-digit number next to an item. The customer then receives a brief phone call from with the final details of the order, then confirms or cancels the purchase.

When a customer purchases something for the first time using TextBuyIt, Amazon will ask for an e-mail address and the shipping ZIP code on the account. With this information, uses the customer’s default settings for payment method, shipping address and shipping speed to complete the first purchase and future purchases from the same phone.

“You do not have to transact personal or financial information using the phone–that breaks down a common online barrier,” says Vidya Drego, senior analyst at Forrester Research Inc.

QVC decided to make purchasing items shown on its television shows simpler and faster by launching QVC Text Ordering, which relies on sending brief phrases to the retailer’s short code. The program enables shoppers to bypass getting off the couch and going to a computer or making a phone call and talking with an agent.

“Once registered with the service, our customers can purchase an item in just two text messages,” says Bob Myers, senior vice president of platforms and broadcast technology at QVC, which is using m-commerce technology from QWASI Inc.

To register for QVC Text Ordering, a customer texts JOIN and her QVC customer number or e-mail address on file to QVC’s short code, QVCGO (78246). The customer then receives a text message back from QVC asking her to verify the account, which includes her default shipping and payment information. After verification, QVC sends the customer a final text message, informing her she now is set to place orders.

To make a purchase, the customer texts a product number to QVCGO. QVC sends a text message back with the item number and price and a request to verify the purchase. After the customer verifies the purchase, the retailer sends her a final text message confirming the order and providing an estimated delivery date.

The customer also can text TSV to the short code to purchase “Today’s Special Value,” and ONAIR to buy what currently is on TV. Additionally, QVC is taking text message m-commerce beyond purchasing. A customer can add items to her e-commerce site-based wish list by texting WISH and an item number or WISH and TSV or ONAIR to the short code. and QVC are far ahead of the pack in using text messages in m-commerce. Most of the action centers on using texts in marketing campaigns.

In October, apparel and accessories retailer launched its first mobile marketing campaign, an exclusive for customers who opted in as the retailer in April began collecting mobile phone numbers during checkout. Customers proved eager to receive mobile messages: more than 100,000 volunteered mobile phone numbers between April and November.

All text messages are limited to 160 characters, including spaces. The October message was simple: “ Get 20% OFF! Enter code: MLUCKY. 3-day exclusive! Off regular + sale items only!”

The retailer racked up $89,000 in sales. It paid its m-commerce technology provider CardinalCommerce Corp. $3,800 to manage the campaign. The campaign achieved a 4% conversion rate and a $220 average order value. What’s more, only 2% of customers opted out of receiving future text messages, a considerable success versus what mobile experts say typically is between 5% and 10%.

“I was a little nervous at first, thinking customers probably didn’t really know what they signed up for, but text messaging has definitely proven to add big numbers to both the top line and bottom line,” says chief operating officer Anand Shah. “The No. 1 factor that tipped the scale in favor of text messaging was our niche demographic: They are early adopters and influencers, not just in apparel but in other walks of life. They live and breathe mobile.”

Important reminders

While offers special promotions for its mobile customers, Inc. uses text messages to market in a different fashion, though with the same goal: staying close to customers while increasing sales. launched a reminder service that warns customers of impending gift-giving days. Customers can join the service by sending a text message to the retailer’s short code. “We’ll remind you in advance of such things as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, and then direct you to our m-commerce site using the text message,” explains Vibhav Prasad, senior director of web merchandising.

Vans Inc. uses text messages in a similar way. Its marketing focus is not on offering promotions but on providing a service.

The shoemaker has a devoted following of fans who connect the crazily designed footwear with a variety of affinities, including skateboarding, surfing, snow sports, music and art, all of which it covers in-depth on its web site. It unveiled last year a service where fans can sign up online to receive via text message regular updates on topics and events in these and other areas—along with Vans shoe news.

“We’re notifying customers it’s time for a visit to,” says Chris Overholser, a senior communications manager who works in lifestyle marketing at Vans.

Promos in the sky

Showing there are few limits to how text messages can be used in marketing, Meijer Inc. used a wildly different approach for a special promotion.

Near Halloween, Meijer beamed images of the Headless Horseman onto the sides of buildings and in the night sky in three major U.S. cities, telling people below to send a text message saying “He rides” to Meijer’s short code to receive a reply text message containing a special code for $10 off a $74 online purchase and enter to win a $1,000 gift certificate to the mass merchant.

Meijer says the campaign greatly increased brand awareness, and not just through the event itself but also through significant local and national media coverage it attracted.

Meijer worked with mobile marketing vendor SmartReply Inc. on the effort, as well as creative and other firms including BlueWater Technologies, DeVito/Verdi, Harvest Music+Sound Design, Integra, SpringThrough and Storytelling Pictures.

“When it comes to creating a campaign without a media spend you are taking a gamble that your content is compelling enough to spread and become consumed,” a Meijer spokesman says. “We succeeded by creating more traction than initially planned.”

In addition to receiving text messages with special codes that can be entered during checkout on an e-commerce site, coupons to be used in bricks-and-mortar stores as well as online are a popular text message marketing approach.

Last year mobile technology vendor Mobile Dialog Inc. added more retail clients to its roster. Its site offers coupons via text messages from merchants, including the Internet Retailer Top 500’s CVS Corp.,, Gaiam Inc., Inc. and Walgreen Co. Consumers create an account at They redeem text message coupons using promotional codes. In addition to the promotional code, mobile coupons include the address and phone number of the nearest store, as well as a hyperlink to the retailer’s web site.

Texting family and friends

American Eagle Outfitters Inc. also is getting into the text message marketing scene. In November it began building on an already successful texting initiative by gathering mobile phone numbers through e-mail campaigns and in stores, informing customers they could receive special promotions through text messages.

In 30 days it gathered tens of thousands of numbers, which shows the great interest consumers have in texting, says Fred Grover, executive vice president of AEO Direct. The merchant planned to send its first text message marketing offer in mid-December.

But it’s a text effort American Eagle Outfitters launched in October 2007 that sets it apart in the field of mobile retailing. Send To Phone is a feature integrated into the retailer’s e-commerce site that enables shoppers to send via text message product information and a short note to others—for instance, asking a friend for her opinion or giving Grandma a birthday present hint.

The feature is essentially the same as E-mail A Friend. However, American Eagle Outfitters designed Send To Phone to do something e-mail can’t—help shoppers in stores remember exactly what to buy.

A text message comes with product name, description and number, so Grandma can just show the saved text message on her phone to a store associate and say, “Bring me this, please,” and be assured it’s precisely what her grandchild wanted. The same goes for shoppers who see something online and want to send themselves a text as a mobile reminder for their next visit to the mall.

For mobile phone users with web access, the text message also includes a hyperlink to a mobile web page, hosted on, with a product image and more information. American Eagle Outfitters uses mobile technology vendor Pelago Inc. to facilitate the text messaging.

A twist on text

Rather than taking a text message promotion or coupon approach first, the retailer wanted to put a different twist on text messaging, a spokeswoman says. “We’re a lifestyle brand and we want to be a part of customers’ lives all the time,” she explains. “Giving them a mobile platform where they can interact with the brand results in sales.”

American Eagle Outfitters pays Pelago a monthly fee, and pays “far less,” the company says, per text message than the 10-20 cents wireless carriers typically charge mobile phone users without text message packages. Mobile experts say an individual text message in a mass text program typically costs between 2.5 cents and 5 cents. The retailer says shoppers use Send To Phone on a daily basis. It adds that return on investment for this program is difficult to track because the goal of the program is to drive mobile consumers into stores.

“The majority of people online are gathering information, and we wanted to make it easy for them to do something with it, to create an environment of sharing where people can have fun with mobile technology,” Grover says.

Whether it’s consumers making purchases or sending product information or retailers sending promotions, coupons or other marketing material, text messages have an edge over online buying and e-mail marketing because they enable convenience and speed for customers, who virtually always have their mobile phones with them, says David W. Geipel, co-founder and chief operating officer at QWASI.

“We’re seeing 10% to 20% response rates on mobile marketing campaigns, which dwarfs the response rates of e-mail marketing. There’s no spam filters on text messages, and there’s no overwhelming in-boxes, where people may not open an e-mail for days, or perhaps just delete it,” Geipel says. “Overall, text messaging gives you the most direct and personal relationship you can have with a customer. Text messages cut through the clutter and immediately deliver specific messages to customers anytime, anywhere.”

Study: DoD May Act On US Civil Unrest

Study: DoD May Act On US Civil Unrest

December 29, 2008
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

A U.S. Army War College report warns an economic crisis in the United States could lead to massive civil unrest and the need to call on the military to restore order.

Retired Army Lt. Col. Nathan Freir wrote the report "Known Unknowns: Unconventional Strategic Shocks in Defense Strategy Development," which the Army think tank in Carlisle, Pa., recently released.

"Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities ... to defend basic domestic order and human security," the report said, in case of "unforeseen economic collapse," "pervasive public health emergencies," and "catastrophic natural and human disasters," among other possible crises.

The report also suggests the new (Barack Obama) administration could face a "strategic shock" within the first eight months in office.

Fort Bliss spokeswoman Jean Offutt said the Army post is not involved in any recent talks about a potential military response to civil unrest.

The report become a hot Internet item after Phoenix police told the Phoenix Business Journal they're prepared to deal with such an event, and the International Monetary Fund's managing director, Dominique Strauss-Khan, said social unrest could spread to advanced countries if the global economic crisis worsens.

Javier Sambrano, spokes-man for the El Paso Police Department, said city police have trained for years so they can address any contingency, but not with the military.

"The police (department) trains on an ongoing basis as part of its Mobile Field Force Training," Sambrano said. "As a result, the police will be able to respond to emergency situations, such as looting or a big civil unrest. The police (department) does not train with Soldiers."

Earlier this year, Pentagon officials said as many as 20,000 Soldiers under the U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) will be trained within the next three years to work with civilian law enforcement in homeland security.

Joint Task Force-North, a joint command at Biggs Army Airfield, which conducts surveillance and intelligence along the border, comes under NORTHCOM. No one was available at JTF-North to comment on the Army War College's report. NORTHCOM was created after the 9-11 attacks to coordinate homeland security efforts.

Soldiers under the former Joint Task Force-6 (now JTF-North) supported the Border Patrol in El Paso with its drug-interdiction operations.

In case civilian authorities request help or become overwhelmed, El Paso has several National Guard and military reserve units that can be called on. In 1992, National Guard and active Marine and Army units were deployed to help police control riots and looting in Los Angeles.

Charles Boehmer, political science professor at the University of Texas at El Paso, was skeptical about the Army War College report.

"The military was not called out during the Great Depression, and I don't think our economic problems are as bad as they were then," he said. "The military always has contingency plans. It's a think tank's job to come up with scenarios, but that doesn't mean it represents an active interest on the part of the (Pentagon)."

The NYT Makes Late Realization: Text Messages Are A Rip-Off | Technomix | Fast Company

The NYT Makes Late Realization: Text Messages Are A Rip-Off | Technomix | Fast Company

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