May 16, 2011

Taliban Now Using Twitter

The Taliban is now fighting their war through microblogging site Twitter.

The Islamist extremists sent out their first tweet on May 12 claiming "enemy attacked in Khak-e-Safid," with a link to their website for more details about rebel fighters killing "at least 6 puppet police."

The group ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001, and they banned almost all electronic products. 

However, now the group sends out text messages and emails, releases videos of attacks on U.S.-led international troops, and runs a website that evades repeated efforts to close it down.

"The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan joined Twitter about six months ago," Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told AFP, using the group's name from its time in power.

"We did it because we know Twitter is a popular social network in the West, and we want to make our voice heard. They used to hear only one-sided news about us from the invaders, but now they can know the reality."

He said an official Taliban page on Facebook had been shut down earlier this year, but supporters still host personal pages on news and information.

"We regard modern technology including the Internet as a blessing of God," he told AFP.

The Taliban's twitter feed sends out several messages each day and is followed by 4,200 people.

"The Taliban have now discovered the magical power of media technology and are widely using it in their favor and to attract new recruits," Mohammad Zia Bomia, director of the Kabul-based Mahal News agency, told AFP.

The Taliban's website shows videos of alleged coalition atrocities and footage of Taliban attacks accompanied by background music and gunfire.

The group says they broadcast Internet radio programs for two hours a day in some regions.

The Afghan intelligence agency (NDS) said it has struggled to act against the Taliban's Internet presence, saying the insurgents' technology experts are based outside the country.

"We have been trying to track them and prevent their propaganda activities as they are against our national interest and constitution," NDS spokesman Lutfullah Mashal said in a statement.

"Unfortunately they are almost all based outside Afghanistan soil," he said, in a veiled reference to neighboring Pakistan.

Many Afghans warn that the group retains the strict anti-modern ideology, despite the Taliban's use of technology.

"They clearly express their goals of taking control again, putting an end to the present democratic system and imposing their version of Sharia law," Afghan media analyst Sediqullah Tawhidi told AFP.

"Looking at these aims, one can be sure that they would behave the same as before and ban all signs of modernity and freedom if they return to power."


On the Net: