Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, August 18th, 2019

Taliban Fighters Double as Reporters to Wage Afghan Digital War

Taliban Fighters Double as  Reporters to Wage Afghan Digital War

KABUL - Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s chief spokesman and editor-in-chief of the insurgent group’s daily news bulletin, starts every day by collecting reports of overnight fighting with U.S. and Afghan forces.
Mujahid says he gets his team of writers to cross-check facts shared by some of the hardline Islamist groups fighters, who double as reporters in the 34 provinces across the country. The writers prepare press statements in five languages and gather footage and photographs shot on smartphones.
The editor-in-chief then approves final drafts of the reports - highlighting the group’s claimed victories in its war aimed at toppling the U.S.-backed Afghan government - before they are published by IT specialists based outside the country.
While some Afghan journalists say its accuracy is patchy, and its opponents accuse it of spreading “fake news”, the Taliban’s slick media operation has emerged as a key weapon in the information war that often leaves the Western-backed government and its U.S. partners struggling to catch up.
Last month, for example the Taliban was swift to deny involvement in a suicide attack on the communications ministry in Kabul later blamed on Islamic State, while information from the government was slower to emerge.
Taliban spokesmen say they have also stepped up their outreach as the pace of direct talks between its negotiators and the United States on ending the war in Afghanistan has picked up in recent months. They are often quicker than U.S. officials to give their read-out from the talks - the sixth round of which wrapped up in Qatar on Thursday.
“Whatever developments occur during the Doha talks, we share it with journalists,” said Mujahid, adding that the messages were aimed at domestic and international audiences. (Reuters)