Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, April 27th, 2018

Internet, a Blessing of God for Taliban

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Internet, a Blessing of God for Taliban

Taliban has changed with the change in the ways of communication. It has somehow tried to cope with the technological change taking place at the global level. Taliban that has maintained an account on twitter in Pashtu language since last year has recently started sending tweets in English. Extremist groups long have used the Internet to distribute videos, audio recordings and other messages.

But this is the first time they have tried to establish a presence on the micro blogging site Twitter, which has proved a valuable organizing tool to the young activists behind the revolutions in the Arab world. This should not be surprising for anybody. The internet age is proving to be quite advantageous for terrorists. The terrorists have been using the internet and other gifts of information technology as tools to absorb more people in them and effectively communicate while planning for or executing a terror attack. Al-Qaida has become now very expert in this and the Taliban is following them.
Taliban's on twitter @alemarahweb on 22 May sent many English tweets that include:

@alemarahweb: "Deadly blast in Zhiri hits US invaders: HELMAND, May. 22 – A deadly IED explosion in Zhiri's Nalgham area detona..."

@alemarahweb: "Blast kills 2 minions in Boldak: KANDAHAR, May. 22 – In Boldak's Rabat area, a motorcycle of border police was o..."

@alemarahweb: "Dozens of US invaders killed in Khost operation:  KHOST, May 22 – A recent report indicates that scores of the U..."

The Twitter feed @alemarahweb posts links to the official website of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, as the Taliban calls itself. The feed, in Pashto – one of the two formal languages of Afghanistan and widely spoken in Pakistan - has been active since December and has posted more than 670 tweets, as the 140-character Twitter messages are called. As far as the Taliban updates its thousands of followers about their operations, it should be no problem because we hear the same sorts of stuff from our media. But if the Taliban misuse the twitter account, it should be immediately closed as has been done by Facebook and Youtube administrators. The twitter site's privacy policy states that the company will disclose user information if they believe that "it is reasonably necessary to comply with a law, regulation or legal request; to protect the safety of any person; to address fraud, security or technical issues; or to protect Twitter's rights or property."

The Taliban account is followed by the thousands of people - more than 4500 - and the number is increasing very rapidly. The Taliban's account follows 12 other Twitter feeds, including @AfghanHeroesUK, which represents a charity for British troops, @AfghanAction, an charity which teachers carpet weaving in Afghanistan, and @Afghantim, a member of the US Air Force who hasn't tweeted since November. Another Twitter account, @al_nukhba, was set up last month. It posts links to an Arabic-language website called Nukhba al-Ilam al-Jihadi, or Jihadi Media Elite (JME). The website features Arabic transcripts of audio and video messages from Al-Qaeda and its affiliates in Yemen, North Africa and Iraq.

In the past few years, observers say, the propaganda machine employed by Al-Qaeda and other extremist groups has become much flatter and more diverse. It has grown from 10 or so password-protected Internet chat forums to a wide range of websites – many of them publicly accessible and maintained by supporters with no off-line links to the real groups. Like in the real world, the Al-Qaeda, Taliban and Its associates are trying to expand their presence on the internet either.

There are thousands of articles and other stuff on the internet aimed at promoting extremism among the masses of different societies. Al-Qaida knew the magical advantages of internet and was successful to use it as tool to motivate and recruit youths from across the globe and this helped it largely in launching the 9/11 attacks. The trend for Taliban to utilize internet for propagation of wrong thoughts among people seems not to be so old. But it is quite dangerous for the mentality of tens of thousands youths in Afghanistan, Pakistan and rest of the world who are connected to internet. Preaching wrong thoughts is a traditional tool for extremists to expand themselves. In the past physical gathering was required for this purpose but today besides that the militants fulfill their preaching wants by using internet, mobile, TV and radio. While their channels or websites have been closed down by some companies, in many countries they still operate. There are also channels that indirectly the same as done by extremists.

The Taliban on the internet is the same Taliban who used to hang TV sets and burn images and films. Today, it conceives technology including internet a blessing God. That is a good change. But if Taliban realize the importance of technology, they should also understand the value of a human life. Taliban had the cruelest government and left no stone unturned exercise violence everywhere it went. Today they have turned Afghanistan into hell by launching terror attacks almost everywhere they want, although this is an inhumane and un-Islamic act. Taliban is responsible for 70 percent of civilian killings in 2010. Recently, it has intensified their attacks under the so-called operation "al Badar" or spring offensive which has take lives of thousands of people mainly the insurgents. By their appearance on websites such as Twitter, they would attempt to mislead people, especially the youths. The governments of the world are required to take important measures to limit the misusages from internet whether it is for extremism or other sorts of crime.

Mohd. Ahsan is the permanent writer of Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at outlookafghanistan-@gmail.com

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