While the Taliban may have been retrograde in its policies towards women and music, the terror outfit has taken a leaf out of British intelligence body MI6 for propaganda activities in a number of countries to seek a favourable narrative for its regime.
In 2017, the MI6 had launched 50 Cyber Propaganda Units, worldwide to shape pro-Britain opinion as well as counter the narratives of its adversaries, sources said.
Each CPU had five members comprising the locals who were trained by the agency for propaganda activities in the countries chosen for their operation, they said.
Taking a cue from MI6, the Taliban has now created over 300 WhatsApp and Telegram with non-Taliban members in countries like Iran, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Russia among others to radicalise the local people in these countries and get them affiliated with Taliban.
The Taliban tactic comes as the regime in Kabul is yet to get recognition from the global community and the outfit is seeking to shape favourable narratives in various countries especially those that are bordering Afghanistan.
International recognition of the Taliban regime will subsequently lead to funding from multilateral agencies to Afghanistan that is in the midst of financial turmoil due to both disruption in governance post-Taliban takeover and drought in the country.
Meanwhile, 3,000 Afghan SIMs are reported to have been smuggled inside Pakistan Occupied Kashmir at the behest of the Pakistan army-ISI combine and could be used for propaganda and terrorism to ramp up terror agenda in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Afghan SIMs will give the Pakistani agencies deniability in case of major terror attacks in the Union Territory by the terror cohorts of Pak Army-ISI like the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and
Jaish-e-Mohammad, experts said.
“Besides propaganda activities through the 300 WhatsApp and Telegram groups, the Taliban is seeking to radicalize a section of the people in the countries where such bids are being made and ultimately exploit the radicalized youths for espionage activities as well as for fomenting terrorism,” said founder of Afghanistan Republic Salvation Front and counter-terrorism expert of Afghan origin Dr Ajmal Sohail.
There is a need to keep a watch on such social media groups in the respective geographies and take timely measures to contain and counter such propaganda and radicalization activities by Taliban, Sohail added.
The Taliban has taken a number of regressive steps to curtail the rights of women like mandatorily imposing the hardline Sharia laws on them and compelling them to dress accordingly, attend universities only after getting married and move out with their husbands. The outfit has also banned music in Afghanistan and destroyed the facilities and instruments of music schools in that country.