The Twitter account @alemarahweb has dispatched more than 700 messages in 140 characters or less to just over 100 followers, always following the same format: a short message in Arabic with a link to a news story, usually on the website of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The Guardian reports that the account belongs to the Taliban and today, wrote its first four messages in English. “Enemy attacked in Khak-e-Safid, 6 dead,” reads one, followed soon after by, “34 killed, 23 enemy vehicles destroyed as US military supply convoy attacked.” The Guardian calls the reports of violence “often highly exaggerated,” but notes the group’s gradual embrace of technology after years of shunning things television and music.
The account gives its name as “mostafa ahmedi” and its location as Kabul, Afghanistan. The bio reads “alemarah-iea.net Is The official website of islamic emirat of afghanistan” and the account follows twelve people, including @Afghantim, a self-described U.S. Air Force officer, and @AfghanHeroesUK, a British charity for troops. (Both should probably block @alemarahweb.)
The Guardian also explains that the Twitter can be of use because the official Taliban website is often shut down by authorities and is constantly switching servers.
Ultimately, it’s all about getting attention:
The Taliban’s embrace of social media is just one part of an impressive public relations capability that runs rings around the efforts of Nato to communicate with Afghans. The movement puts out a constant stream of information through text messages and email. Edited video clips of fights against coalition forces, “martyrdom operations” and Taliban songs are circulated through Bluetooth-enabled smartphones.
In fact, in December, the thirst for coverage was spelled out in an email from the Taliban that whined, “Not even 10% of the written material sent to you appears in your media,” and blamed the “global colonialist junta under the leadership of America.”