Taliban Develop Smartphone App to Advance Propaganda Efforts

  • Militant group pushing into Internet to boost visibility
  • Afghan government has been fighting group for more than decade

An Afghan former Taliban fighter carries his weapon before handing it over as part of a government peace and reconciliation process at a ceremony in Jalalabad.

Photographer: Noorullah Shirzada/AFP via Getty Images

Afghanistan’s Taliban guerrillas developed an online application for Android smartphones, signaling the militant group is becoming more adept at using Internet and wireless technologies to increase visibility.

The app “is part of our advanced technological efforts to make more global audience," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed said Sunday in a telephone interview discussing the release of the app. The U.S.-based SITE Intel Group, which monitors jihadist social media, reported the development on Friday.

The Pashto language app includes content such as official statements and videos from the Taliban, which has sought insurgency in the country for more than 14 years since it was ousted in 2001 with help from the U.S. The app appeared on Google’s Play Store until Saturday, when it was removed to fix some "technical issues," Mujahed said. The app should reappear soon, he said.

The app adds to the Taliban’s digital campaign to attract more audience worldwide. The movement has an updated website run in five languages including English and Arabic, as well as Twitter and Facebook accounts providing daily reports on its insurgency. The group’s website and Twitter accounts have been taken down several times as the Afghan government seeks to interrupt the group’s communications efforts.

"The app will help Taliban to further psychologically weaken Afghanistan by their propaganda reports,” said Jawid Kohistani, an independent Kabul-based security analyst.

Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry, said yesterday by phone he wasn’t aware of the Taliban app.

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