Tweeting Terror? Taliban Joins Twitter

Islamist group enters digital age

The Taliban is now following you—on Twitter. @alemarahweb is the latest attempt by “the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” to reach its supporters, keep an eye on its critics, and spread its influence beyond the reach of its traditional base and into the modern technological world.

The mobilizing role of Twitter in the "Arab Spring" that is sweeping North Africa and the Middle East was not lost on the Islamist militant group. The Taliban’s new addition to the micro-blogosphere churns out messages in both Pashtu and English, informing readers about recent, arguably trumped up successes, on the battlefield. The feed’s sparse English-language tweets started yesterday, and its followers have more than doubled in the past day.

Mostafa Ahmedi, a man believed to be on the Taliban’s "publicity" team, is seemingly at the helm of the new social media project. Though the people behind the tweets cannot be confirmed, recent posts (such as "Enemy attacked in Khak-e-Safid, 6 dead") indicate the brains behind the initiative is a Taliban supporter at the very least.

@alemarahweb’s followers run the gamut from sympathizers to journalists to anxious security consultants. Perhaps more interestingly, Ahmedi is following quite the range of tweeters. There may only be 12 Twitter feeds that have caught the eye of Ahmedi and the Taliban, but an assortment including news organizations, charities, and a U.S. logistics officer in Afghanistan paint a curious picture of the group’s budding online identity. Surely, this will be a Twitter account worth following in coming weeks, along with another user, @ABalkhi, who is reportedly the Taliban's main English-language micro-blogger.