Facebook Disabled Taliban Spokesman Account

Qari Mohammad Yousuf, the purported Taliban spokesman in Afghanistan, or someone using his name, recently found his way to Facebook, one of the most used social network web sites in the world.

He registered his name in Pashto, one of the two official languages of Afghanistan, which is spoken by ethnic Pashtuns. Majority of the Taliban, both in Afghanistan and Pakistan, belong to this ethnic group and they mostly use this language for communication.

With having long experience and expertise on Taliban activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan and having been an expert on the language, this scribe can confirm that the Facebook account holder was a very active Taliban member if not Qari Mohammad Yousuf himself because it is believed that there are many Taliban spokesmen using this name as a propaganda tactic. After monitoring his activities by this scribe, it was found that he posted very accurate information (news, claims, statements, videos, etc.) and on exact times about incidents and attacks the same way as the official spokesman (or spokesmen) has been providing to the media over last few years.

He was very quick to post the information; he got hundreds of followers and friends in a very short time, had been expanding his network, and was apparently making online contacts to recruit young Muslims in European and Arab countries as well as the United States for a jihad until Facebook disabled his account.

Facebook has not stated any reasons for this action; however, its policy says it will not allow terrorist activities and requests members to report such activities. And it is unclear how Facebook found out the man was a Taliban spokesman (or member of this group) since all his activities were in the Pashto language, though some of his friends then translated the content into English and other languages and shared it on their own Walls or pages or forwarded to their friend lists.

Facebook has already shut down Osama bin Laden's page, though thousands of his network members and militants affiliated with other extremist groups may still have been using the popular social network web site to remain in touch with their friends and fans.

The Taliban have their own websites, forums and print and online magazines for their propaganda purposes. A detailed profile of these can be found here. Interestingly, their effective use of internet, particularly Facebook, the video sharing web site Youtube, and the microblogging web site Twitter, is something that makes their war of words very successful and puts them much ahead of counterinsurgency forces, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the Coalition Forces, and the Afghan government. As these three websites are getting more and more popular in Afghanistan, they become a very good source for being in direct contact with people across the country. The Taliban have proved their capabilities in doing this, but the NATO forces and the Afghan government have not.

One important aspect of the use of these websites is that they enable the Taliban and other extremist groups to recruit youth in European, Arab countries as well as the United States. Once they successfully enter the terrorist networks, these foreign recruits prove far more dangerous than the locally trained militants.