Taliban Adopt ISIS Playbook: Tweet Before Blowing Yourself Up

REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski.

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Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent
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Taliban militants are increasingly adopting Islamic State tactics of plastering skirmishes and suicide bombings on social media.

When Taliban fighters briefly entered the city of Kunduz in early October, a video showed a fighter telling someone he was on the phone with, “I will call you back. The flag is going up. I have to film it.” The terrorist group also posted a drone video of a suicide car bomb attack on an Afghan outpost.

The Taliban’s new social media practices mimic the Islamic State’s prolific social media presence, which takes great pains to document its battles for online supporters. Frequent ISIS postings draw enthusiasm from potential recruits, and help the group solicit online donations from sympathizers.

The Taliban reportedly used to release videos of suicide operations months after the fact, with little production value. The group now tries to provide real time updates in its operations. “We want to fill the vacuum ourselves,” a Taliban spokesman told the New York Times. The spokesman described how the terrorist group now includes “media officers” on the front lines with its troops to document its operations.

The Taliban’s new social media strategy come amid historic victories for the terrorist group. Taliban militants currently threaten five provincial capitals across the country, and are inflicting massive losses on the U.S.-backed Afghan Security Forces. The Afghan forces are suffeting historic casualties since the end of the U.S. combat mission in 2014 — 4,500 men were lost between March and August, with 900 of those casualties sustained in the month of July alone. Current estimates put Afghan losses at nearly 18 men per day.

Even Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford told Congress in September that the Taliban controls nearly 30 percent of the country.

“On balance, I would call what is going on right now between the Afghan national defense security forces and the Taliban [as] roughly a stalemate,” he characterized the situation.

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