On May 26, 2017, an Ethiopian high court formally charged two people with terrorism, claiming their actions resulted in a human stampede that killed 55 individuals. Human Rights Watch has maintained the death toll was significantly higher.
The stampede occurred during a religious festival in the politically sensitive Oromia region near the capital of Addis Ababa.
Tufa Melka stands accused of “snatching a microphone from community leaders and causing trouble during the festival.” His actions may have triggered a panic, something akin to shouting “fire” in a crowded theater.
Another individual, Kedir Bedasso is accused of “orchestrating violence by cell phone.” “Orchestrating” was the term used by virtually every article in a Google search.
When one envisions an orchestra, it implies the instruments of a multi-faceted, collaborative symphony. In essence, Bedasso is being charged with conducting a “symphonic panic.”
Think about it. The term “orchestrating” involves a degree of sophistication and malicious intent. This likely extends beyond directly transmitting unilateral information or merely placing a phone call. Although the phrasing of the terrorism charges is vague at best, I think it’s safe to assume that Bedasso will be held to account for instigating… the “technological, modern equivalent of shouting FIRE in a crowded theater.”
How could something like this be achieved? Well, there are a variety of possibilities. Without going into extensive detail…
* A concerted wireless carrier hack.
* Opt-in notification abuse (platforms like emergency alerts, Amber Alerts, imminent weather threats, etc.).
* A bulk text messaging program in concert with a designated list of cell phone numbers.
* The utilization of Stingray technology in tandem with a real-time robocall program.
* Viral blitzkrieg — a bombardment or saturation of social media (facebook, twitter, etc.), carefully attenuated to spread in a decentralized, exponential fashion.
* phishing scams, targeted spam, mass trolling, etc.
These methods are some of the major ways to conceivably foment a real-world panic. And it should raise a red flag for one distinct reason.
Because if the charge is valid, it’s a blatant admission that mankind is capable of weaponizing a human stampede. And if that’s the case, in this era of cellular proliferation, it would seem wise to craft specific legislation regarding this undefined, yet incredibly generic, wireless attack vector. In straight talk that means “get the word out and warn people.”
Not only is this uncharted territory, it’s a pretty alarming precedent. It’s an open acknowledgment (in a court of law) that one can indiscriminately kill scores of innocent human beings without conventional weaponry.
I have serious doubts whether the United States, the biggest supplier and distributor of military grade weapons, would be willing to make such an admission. After all, we make the weapons. We sell the weapons. I hate to sound like a pessimistic conspiracy theorist, but this would NOT bode well for the military industrial complex. The Trump administration, or for that matter any administration, would seem ill-advised to make this specific concession.