Since the formation of the Taliban, its members detested modern technology and prohibited its fighters from accessing the Internet. But since using the Internet, including Twitter, to speak to the world, they are now doing it in English.
Taliban has taken on the task of being very media friendly. Since the United States and NATO invasion of Afghanistan, Taliban fighters have been open to media interviews, both over the telephone and through e-mail, and they produce videos glorifying their attacks.
With the advent of social media networks, the Taliban established a Twitter account in late 2010, which has led to more than 2,600 followers and 771 tweets – most of the updates are links to their websites reporting on recent attacks in Afghanistan.
“It appears they want to improve their outreach,” said Senior Fellow at NYU's Center for International Cooperation, Bartnett Rubin, reports the London Telegraph. “Mobile phones are very widespread in Afghanistan, but computers are not. Hence this makes a lot of sense.”
Although majority of the Twitter updates are written in Pashtu, an Afghan dialect, there are several tweets published in English.
The first English tweet was posted on May 11: “Enemy attacked in Khak-e-Safid, 6 dead: FARAH, May. 12 – Mujahideen from Khak-e-Safid district say that at least...” the tweet stated.
Several hours later, another English tweet was published: “34 killed, 23 enemy vehicles destroyed as US military supply convoy attacked: WARDAG, May 12 – On Tuesday, Muja…”
The latest English update was written Friday morning: “8 local minions killed, 7 wounded in Kunduz province: KUNDUZ, May 13 – At least 4 puppets of hireling ANA were…”
It seems now that the Taliban is attempting to promote their work and message to an international audience by writing in different languages and utilizing the technology available.
“We live in an information age, and they’re adapting and learning,” said one Western intelligence officer who has monitored the Taliban’s media production since 2005, reports the Globe and Mail. “They realize they can’t just say ‘jihad, jihad, jihad’ and ‘martyr, martyr, martyr’ all the time for their stories to have legs.”
Another method the Taliban is using is the means of following another Twitter account. Presently, their account is following 12 others, including @Afghantim – USAF Logistics Readiness Officer currently deployed as a combat advisor to the Afghan Army.
So who is following the Taliban? The list mostly includes average citizens, freelance reporters, journalism students and others.
An Afghan media entrepreneur, Shir Mohammed Jahesh, said that this is benefitting journalists because “[the] Taliban do the work for journalists” and “they get their message out on time and sometimes in advance.”