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Afghan Taliban Evolves With Technology

  • Sean Maroney

Since the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan 10 years ago, the Taliban has kept pace with changing technology - using the latest forms of communication to spread their message. Some analysts say the insurgents are more effective at outreach than even the Afghan government.

The Taliban's official website is multi-lingual, using Pashto, Dari, Arabic, Urdu and even English.

No matter how many times authorities block it, the site's administrators - believed to be based outside of Afghanistan - quickly restore service.

In contrast, the official website of the Afghan government was only recently reactivated, after being down for some time.

Both the government and the Taliban regularly email statements to reporters. But Siddiqullah Tawhidi, who monitors media in Afghanistan, said one side has an edge in outreach.

"The Taliban's spokesmen have benefited the most from technology and mobile phones," said Tawhidi. "They are always in contact with reporters, passing along their message and then monitoring the media to see if reporters pass it along. This happens at a time when the Afghan government has had difficulty getting its message to the media."

Afghanistan's mobile phone network, considered one of the Karzai government's biggest successes, also is known as the Taliban's biggest propaganda tool. And Danish Karokhel, with Pajhwok Afghan News, said the Taliban also uses mobile phones for intimidation.

"Our reporters not only face threats through email and telephone, but they are also abducted and beaten. During the last year, Pajwak has lost three of its reporters," said Karokhel.

The Taliban banned TV, music and movies when it ruled Afghanistan in the 1990s.

But after a decade of war, the group seems to have readily embraced the 21st century's technology, even turning to social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter.

Homayoon Shoaib of VOA's Afghan Service contributed reporting to this story.

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