The Taliban is going with a classic communication tool in hopes of burnishing its image: the pocket guide.
According to an analysis of the little blue “Rules for Mujahedeen,” the thirteen chapters cover everything from avoiding civilian casualties, discrimination, using suicide bombings only for high-value targets (gulp), approval for the execution of Afghan, Nato or public figures (double gulp), and an order for faction groups to step in line or disband.
It’s an interesting example of the oldest form of pamphleteer PR. Putting rules in a small, accessible book conveys a coming clampdown within the organization, and shores up existing civilian support amidst increased military pressure by the U.S.
By either leaking or losing a copy to Nato forces, the Rules are an external PR tool as well, getting extensive play on Al Jazeera’s Arabic service, finally reaching the Washington Times.
The ultimate example of messaging through pocket books has to be Mao’s red one. The Chinese government is said to have printed over 5 billion copies in just 12 years.
[Image from Wikimedia Commons]