Due to a strict adherence to Sharia law, the Taliban have long shunned modern technology, particularly personal televisions and computers. But in the wake of a recent offensive campaign in the Afghan city of Kandahar, the group has emerged on a new, if unlikely, modern platform: Twitter.
At the the time of writing this, the account in question (@alemarahweb) has 363 followers. Most of the messages are broadcasted in the militant sect’s native Pashto. But, as the Guardian points out, on early Thursday morning a message that read in English was sent across the Twitter-sphere. Like most of the tweets posted, the message concerned exaggerated reports of “strikes against the ‘infidel forces’” that typically feature links back to The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan website, a frequently relocated Web headquarters for the splintered Taliban’s makeshift government.
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The account also follows 12 other users (at least at the time of writing this), notably @Afghantim, a “USAF Logistics Readiness Officer currently deployed as a combat advisor to the Afghan Army,” and numerous Afghani news and development groups. The Guardian surmises this to be a practice of the old axiom “keep your friends close but your enemies closer.” (More on Time.com: See the 140 best Twitter feeds)
The emergence of Twitter has consistently been one of the key stories concerning the revolutions in Egypt and other uprisings. And it has proven, time and time again, pivotal to community leaders for organizing unified protests on a massive scale. The adoption of social media by a decentralized group like the Taliban is perhaps an acknowledgement of the platform’s communicative potential, whether that be for strategic or merely propaganda purposes.
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