New Taliban twitter account comes online…
By Tim Foxley
Summary: A new Taliban twitter account begs two questions: is it genuine and, if so, what “value added” do the Taliban feel it is going to bring?
Purely by chance I’ve noticed that a new twitter feed appears to have come online today (27 Aug) from the Taliban (
Dear Brothers, from today onwards I will tweet you on the latest news, Insha’allah Your Brother, Zabihullah Mujahid
The account is only 12 tweets in and appears to be pushing standard Taliban unverifiable battle claims and soundbites:
Al-Farooq| ISAF tank targeted with IED followed by ambush, Spin Masjid area, Babaji (Helmand), 10am Saturday, 3 invaders killed, 3 wounded.
Zabiullah Mujahid is the name generally associated with the Taliban lead media spokesman, although whether this is a genuine person or a collective name for any Taliban media releases remains unclear to me.
Analysis and Outlook:
A few initial thoughts:
It is unclear whether this is a genuine Taliban source or one falsely set up by, for example, an intelligence agency (Afghan, regional or international), in order to slowly subvert and discredit Taliban messaging. If this is the case, I would expect the Taliban shortly to denounce it. If it is an attack against Taliban messaging capability, the messages will continue to read exactly as other Taliban twitter and website messages for a number of weeks/months (ie it remains a Taliban “rebroadcast site”), before slowly drifting “off message” into areas that criticise or otherwise work against Taliban ideas and actions. I believe external anti-Taliban agencies have tried this before – simply take a look at this twitter account: Abdulqahar Balkhi, which is a direct copy of what I believe to be a genuine Taliban twitter source,
@ABalkhi, except an additional “i” added to the spelling, and carries a very anti-Taliban stream of messages written in the same style as the Taliban…
I expect this new twitter account to be rapidly followed by a multitude of western analysts, journalists etc. But, if this is a genuine Taliban new twitter site, the question is “so what?” See Ty Tyrell at The Kabul Cable and El Snarkistani at Its Always Sunny in Kabul sites for some very constructive runs through of most of the analytical issues surrounding Twitter from Taliban and ISAF perspectives. What is it going to achieve that other Taliban twitter sites and tweets do not already achieve (and of course – what do the Taliban/ISAF twitter efforts achieve is another interesting question!), if all it does is to rebroadcast exisiting Taliban messages? Two possible answers to this:
- The Taliban are attempting to build some “robustness” into their messaging capability for fear that they will be taken offline or are being otherwise harassed or pursued (“multiple sites are better than one”). Their website appears to still be down after a week or so – most likely the result of hostile intelligence activity. This may be causing them to look to expand other means of electronic media communication.
- They are driven by a confused need to be seen to be embracing technology that they don’t really understand but feel they ought to be involved with – expanding output without really understanding how useful the process is. They will be experiencing the same problem that ISAF has – it is difficult to measure the effect of your messaging/counter-messaging efforts and how much effort is wasted.
I suspect the latter. Well, lets watch the content and see where it goes…