It might surprise you to learn that the Taliban, the Islamic fundamentalist group most notable for their harboring Osama bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda network, is on Twitter.
The account, @alemarahweb, is linked to the official website of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was the name of the ruling powers of the Taliban from 1996 to 2001 when they took control of Kabul and 90% of the country. This regime was famous for their harsh treatment of women and the Shia minority in Afghanistan. The Taliban became synonymous with Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda following 9/11.
So yeah, that Taliban is now active in the world of social media.
The account in question has been around for s few months now, but it just tweeted its first English tweet late yesterday. The Guardian first reported the account and their shift to English:
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.
The above tweet takes the form of most of the English language tweets (about 8 in total) put out by the Taliban. They are usually death reports and refer to the U.S. as "invaders." The reports range from ground troop deaths to helicopters shot down to US tanks being "obliterated."
When the Guardian reported on the account last night it had just under 1,000 followers. At the writing of this article it has 2,814 followers. The account is following only 12 other accounts, including an Afghani carpet weaving group and a children's mini-circus based in Kabul. Strangley enough the Taliban's account also follows a USAF logistics readiness officer currently deployed in Afghanistan. How's that phrase go? Keep your friends close but follow your enemies on Twitter?
The Taliban's embrace of technology seems a little odd, considering that they declared the internet as "wrong" and "against Islam" before banning it back in 2001. But, let's remember, we thought Osama bin Laden was still holed up in a cave somewhere before we found him in a million dollar compound. And as far as technology goes, we collected a treasure trove of information from his computers and drives that we are still in the process of sorting through.