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Taliban Uses Texts as Latest Intimidation Move

islamic state of afghanistan facebook page
The Taliban has begun sending gruesome "night letters" -- violent videos meant to intimidate and control Afghans -- en masse via SMS. Historically written threats posted on buildings, night letters have long been a successful means of coercion by the Taliban. The video form has cropped up in the last couple of years on Facebook and YouTube, and tends toward the extreme, such as interviews of suicide bombers intercut with their attacks.

In the past years, fundamentalist groups have become increasingly savvy in their use of modern technology and social media. This latest tactic in many ways simply represents a natural evolution. Posts to the Facebook fan pages (such as the one above) are converted to SMS and sent to subscribers, who can easily forward them on. Aside from the chain letter effect, the success of the the mass texting comes in part from the impossibility of controlling such a means of communication.

"We give operation licenses to telecom companies so they can provide communication services to people," Emal Marjan, Afghanistan's Information and Technology Ministry spokesman, told Radio Free Europe. "It is neither ours nor the company's responsibility to identify who uses the services for what purposes"

Tags: afghanistan, cellphones, facebook, insurgency, newsmain, night letters, NightLetters, security, sms, taliban, terrorism, terrorists, top