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Taliban Employs Modern Weapons In ‘War of Words’

By Bashir Ahmad Gwakh

“Wars today cannot be won without media. Media aims at the heart rather than the body, [and] if the heart is defeated, the battle is won.”

This conclusion, reached by Abdul Sattar Maiwandi in an interview published recently on the website Al-Emarah, is not groundbreaking. The importance of winning the “war of words,” as Maiwandi describes it, to winning an actual war has long been understood.

But consider the source. Maiwandi is the editor in chief of Al-Emarah, which is an official Taliban website. And while the Taliban officially banned photography, movies, and the use of the Internet when it was in power in Afghanistan — considering them un-Islamic — today the militant group cannot deny the potential of such media as tools of propaganda and recruitment.

The Taliban employs a number of tactics on the modern media battlefield. The group has established an official “media committee” to oversee the effort, according to Maiwandi. He says a professional production studio called Al-Shahamat has been set up to produce videos.

From there they are distributed on Taliban websites, passed from mobile phone to mobile phone, and reach broader audiences through other outlets, such as Facebook and YouTube. Danish Karokhel, director of Afghanistan’s first independent news agency, Pajhwok Afghan News, says that the Taliban’s media campaign is intended to affect the opinions of both Afghans and foreigners.

“They do [propaganda] to influence foreign nations to put pressure on their governments [to withdraw their forces from Afghanistan]. Also, they want to spread terror among people in Afghanistan through their videos,” Karokhel says. The Taliban “want to scare people so they do not support the government. They threaten people. Whoever sees those kinds of videos will obviously be scared.” …

Read the full article at: http://ping.fm/d5SnO

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