Even The Taliban Are Social Networking

Did the "voice of jihad" just get a little louder? Afghan tribalism has origins that date back 1400 years to the early Muslim and Islamic civilizations. With a lifestyle based on jihad and an economy that thrives on opium trade, who would have thought that these warring factions in Afghanistan and Pakistan would ever embrace social media as a means to communicate.

But that is the case. Taliban translates to "student" in Pashto or Afghani- which at first blush would seem to be an oxymoron. However, students are in actuality a good portion of the rank and file of the Taliban troops. Religious schools, or Madrassas have been infiltrated throughout Afghanistan and Pakistan where tribal leaders have recruited armies of impressionable students to do their bidding

Perhaps it's this new demographic that is testing the social media waters. This past October, Foreign Policy reports that the Taliban have "finally embraced online videos and launched Istiqlal Media, an official YouTube channel. Today, it appears that the Taliban webmasters have recognized the merits of YouTube, using their enemies' US-based service to integrate the use of videos.

The YouTube channel when initially set up included videos of car bombings and gun battles set to music. However, YouTube's censors moved in quickly to remove these clips, as is evidenced here.

Istiqlal Media video removed by YouTubeIstiqlal Media video removed by YouTube

One video now remains on the site which is ironically a very peaceful montage of picturesque mountainous scenery and images of Afghani children

The Taliban regime, which also calls itself the "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" has expanded its foray into Web 2.0 with the development of their "" Web site. Not quite a full blown social network, it does allow readers to share posts via Twitter, Facebook, Digg and other social networking services.

So tribal societies that have existed for almost two millenniums have finally found an entry into the 21st Century. However, as fractionalized as these tribes are due to geographic constraints, it would make a lot of sense if the various groups were to develop their own proprietary version of Twitter and Facebook. It would provide them with a means of real-time communication that they heretofore haven't had an opportunity to experience.

However, for all I know, after a hard day of jihaddin,' those Madrassa students might being hard at work doing just that! Didn't the idea for Facebook first begin in a university dormitory?

Nov 4, 2009
by Anonymous

Excellent Article

Thanks Ron... I'm trying to keep up with all the US decisions and actions, and it only makes sense that the Taliban would start using social media in one sense or another, even if it's their own internal renegades seeking to use alternate means to spread the word. My hope is that they do it in a way that helps us track them down.