When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, they eschewed most modern technology, including television and music players.
But in the latest sign of the hardline movement’s rapprochement with at least some areas of the modern world, the Taliban have embraced microblogging.
Their Twitter feed, @alemarahweb, pumps out several messages a day, keeping 993 followers up to date with often highly exaggerated reports of strikes against the “infidel forces” and the “Karzai puppet regime”. Most messages are in Pashtu, with links to news stories on the elaborate and multilingual website of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, as the Taliban’s shadow government likes to style itself.
Today, the feed broke into English for the first time, with a tweet about an attack on police in Farah province: “Enemy attacked in Khak-e-Safid, 6 dead.”
There is not much lively banter between the “emirate” and its Twitter followers, save for a cheerful “asalam alekum” sent last week to the Kavkaz Centre, a militant news site covering jihad in the Caucasus.
Many of the story links are broken as the Taliban’s official website, regularly evicted from servers or shut down by authorities, is constantly on the move.
Presumably operating on the grounds that it is best to know one’s enemies – 140 characters at a time – the first feed the Taliban signed up to follow was that of @Afghantim, who describes himself as a US air force logistics officer currently deployed working as a combat adviser to the Afghan army.