August 24, 2021
Online communities are not just used for propaganda but are valuable fundraising tools and crucial to recruitment
How social media helped the tech-savvy Taliban retake Afghanistan | Weeda Mehran
The Taliban took over Afghanistan in two weeks, ending 20 years of fighting with western troops and the Afghan national army. Many factors, such as a problematic peace deal, a lack of political will among the former Kabul administration to fight the Taliban and rampant corruption contributed to the group’s rapid advance and the fall of Kabul – but notable among them was a successful modern media strategy.
Prior to 2001 the Taliban banned the use of the internet, dismantled state-run television stations, ordered citizens to stop watching TV altogether and banned music. But after they had been ousted by international forces, the group rapidly expanded its online presence, starting in 2003 with a new insurgency. They launched a new radio station called Voice of Sharia, which had its own website, Al Emarah. Despite numerous attempts to block and remove it, Al Emarah has remained the official website of the Taliban. The site primarily contains battlefield news and videos, as well as the Taliban’s official statements. In the aftermath of their defeat, the Taliban focused their efforts on reviving the group online, “a virtual emirate”, as one scholar called it.
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