Washington Post is condemned for calling Taliban 'sophisticated'

Washington Post is condemned for report hailing Taliban’s ‘sophisticated’ use of social media while saying the terror group incites less violence than Donald Trump did

  • In Wednesday’s article, reporters Craig Timberg and Christiano Lima wrote the Taliban’s overall tactics ‘show such a high degree of skill
  • It is believed at least one public relations firm is assisting the Taliban on how to amplify messages across social media
  • Timberg and Lima explained Twitter is among the only platform that permits the Taliban to uphold an active presence online
  • Facebook and Instagram have actively banned the terrorist group from promoting its message

The Washington Post was condemned over a story calling the Taliban’s use of social media ‘strikingly sophisticated,’ while claiming that the group’s internet presence did less to incite violence than Donald Trump did. 

In a story published Wednesday, reporters Craig Timberg and Christiano Lima praised the Taliban’s online tactics – including a regularly-updated Twitter feed, as showing ‘such a high degree of skill,’ that they believed a PR firm had been drafted in to help them get their extremist message across, just like regular politicians in democracies. 

The Washington Post has received immense backlash over a recent story arguing the Taliban had become ‘strikingly sophisticated’ when using social media to build political momentum than former President Donald Trump

In a story published Wednesday, (pictured) reporters Craig Timberg and Christiano Lima praised the Taliban’s online tactics – including a regularly-updated Twitter feed, as showing ‘such a high degree of skill,’

Timberg and Lima wrote the Taliban’s believe a PR firm had been drafted in to help them get their extremist message across, just like regular politicians in democracies

‘In accounts swelling across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — and in group chats on apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram — the messaging from Taliban supporters typically challenges the West’s dominant image of the group as intolerant, vicious and bent on revenge, while staying within the evolving boundaries of taste and content that tech companies use to police user behavior,’ the article continued. 

The most well-known Taliban Twitter ‘spokesman’ is Suhail Shaheen, who provides updates on the hardline Islamic group’s progress to 360,000 followers. His continued presence on the social media site has sparked fury amid reports of extreme violence being meted out by the group in Afghanistan, while Donald Trump was banned after being blamed for inciting the US Capitol riots. 

Other Twitter users were quick to criticize the publication for the claim. 

‘This is an example of a democracy dying in darkness!’ wrote one user in reference to the Washington Post’s famed slogan, ‘Democracy Dies in Darkness.’ 

‘An article in WaPo explaining why Trump is banned from social media and the Taliban isn’t, argues that the Taliban follows the rules and is “A movement rooted in traditional moral codes” and I’m sorry but everybody has lost their bloody minds,’ another wrote.    

The most well-known Taliban Twitter ‘spokesman’ is Suhail Shaheen, (pictured) who provides updates on the hardline Islamic group’s progress to 360,000 followers

The article goes on to highlight a specific video online as evidence of the group’s skill at portraying themselves positively. It shows Taliban fighters are dressed in camouflage, brandishing machine guns in an eastern province of Afghanistan, amidst a picturesque pink and blue sky. 

The text below, in Pashto and English, reads, ‘IN AN ATMOSPHERE OF FREEDOM.’

Timberg and Lima explained Twitter is among the only platform that permits the Taliban to uphold an active presence online, while Facebook and Instagram have actively banned the terrorist group from promoting its message.   

Numerous U.S. conservatives are confused why Trump was banned from Twitter after he was accused of inciting rioters to storm the U.S Capitol on January 6., while various Taliban figures have not.

Pakistan and Taliban flags flutter on their respective sides while people walk through a security barrier to cross border at a border crossing point between Pakistan and Afghanistan, in Chaman, Pakistan, Wednesday, Aug. 18 

Reporters Craig Timberg and Christiano Lima explained Twitter is among the only platform that permits the Taliban to uphold an active presence online, while Facebook and Instagram have actively banned the terrorist group from promoting its message

‘The answer, analysts said, may simply be that Trump’s posts for years challenged platform rules against hate speech and inciting violence. Today’s Taliban, by and large, does not,’ Timberg and Lima wrote.      

‘The Taliban is clearly threading the needle regarding social media content policies and is not yet crossing the very distinct policy-violating lines that Trump crossed,’ Rita Katz, executive director of the SITE Intelligence Group, told the paper Wednesday.

Katz continued by saying, ‘This doesn’t mean at all that the Taliban shouldn’t be removed from social media, because the waves of propaganda and messaging it is spreading — permissible as it may seem by some content policy standards — is fueling a newly emboldened and extremely dangerous global Islamist militant movement.’  

Stranded Afghan nationals arrive to return back to Afghanistan at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border crossing point in Chaman on August 16, 2021

A man cries as he watches fellow Afghans get wounded after Taliban fighters use gunfire, whips, sticks and sharp objects to maintain crowd control over thousands of Afghans who continue to wait outside Kabul airport for a way out

Although the State Department has classified the Pakistani Taliban a foreign terrorist organization, it has not designated the Afghan Taliban as one. 

Under rulings from the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the Afghan Taliban is listed as a sanctioned entity. 

The jihadists have been dubbed ‘Taliban 2.0’ for their media charm offensive in trying to persuade the world that they have moderated compared to the Taliban of 20 years ago.  

However, the Taliban’s new ‘moderate’ façade has already crumbled with images emerging today of alleged thieves being tarred and strapped to trucks, and reports of a journalist shot dead for raising a flag and of a woman killed for refusing to wear a burqa. 

The terror group’s ‘Angels of Salvation’ are going from door-to-door and dragging political opponents from their homes at gunpoint. One suspect’s neighbor reported that the Taliban said he would be hanged tomorrow. 

A journalist who raised the Afghan national flag in defiance at a protest in the northern city of Jalalabad on Wednesday was shot dead by the jihadists, along with two other protesters. 

According to local reports. Zahidullah Nazirzada had joined defiant crowds in raising the tricolour, now outlawed and replaced by the Taliban’s white banner.  

Footage from Kabul showed a car thief on Tuesday with his face covered in tar, tied to the back of a truck and his hands behind his back as people gathered around to gawp. A traffic cop stood nearby apparently powerless. 

A young woman was shot dead for allegedly refusing to wear a burqa by marauding jihadists when they captured the northern town of Taloqan in Takhar province last week, according to a post widely shared on social media.

She is seen lying in a pool of blood as her distraught parents crouch beside her body in the image which was shared by the Afghan Ambassador to Poland, Tahir Qadry, who denounced the ‘butchering of civilians.’ 

Other footage shows Taliban fighters outside Kabul airport on Tuesday wielding AK-47s and rocket launchers, marching towards the terrified crowds and firing warning shots into the air.  

The race to get out of Kabul: What is the situation in Afghanistan and how many people are being evacuated?

The Taliban have seized power in Afghanistan two weeks before the US was set to complete its troop withdrawal after a costly 20-year war. Here is the latest:

  • The Taliban, who ran Afghanistan in the late 1990s, have again taken control after the Western-backed government that has run it for 20 years collapsed
  • The Taliban’s deputy leader and co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar arrived in Kandahar Tuesday after 20 years of exile, landing in the insurgent group’s former capital just days after they took control of the country. 
  • It comes as the Taliban held a press conference in which it insisted it would respect women’s rights – but women’s rights but ‘within Islamic law’
  • They insisted would not exact revenge, which the group insisted they ‘want to live peacefully’ after taking control of Afghanistan
  • Thousands of people are racing to Kabul Airport which is one of the last routes out of the country amid fears the Taliban could carry out revenge attacks
  • Tens of thousands of people need evacuating – including some 22,000 on US special immigrant visas, 6,000-7,000 British nationals and Afghan allies, and 10,000 refugees that Germany has said it will accept 
  • Some people are so desperate that they clung to the side of a military jet as it took off and then plunged to their deaths yesterday – at least seven died 
  • At least 12 military flights took off from Kabul today
  • Britain has carried out three MoD military flights so far today amid hopes they can get 6,000-7,000 people out in total
  • RAF planes are taking people to other stable parts of the Middle East where they can get charter flights back to the UK 
  • Eleven aircraft of five different types are believed to be shuttling in and out of Kabul – the RAF Voyager Tanker (Airbus A330 MRTT), Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, Lockheed C-130 Hercules and Airbus A400M Atlas 
  • 900 British armed forces are in Afghanistan to bring UK nationals home and secure safety of some Afghans
  • 370 UK embassy staff and British nationals were flown out by the MoD on Sunday and yesterday, while 289 Afghan nationals were taken out last week
  • A further 350 British and Afghans will be taken out of the country in the next 24 hours, UK Government says 
  • The US may issue up 80,000 special immigrant visas to those who helped with its combat operations
  • 7,500 troops currently guarding the airport – including 6,000 Americans and smaller numbers of British, Turkish and Australians – will also need to leave  
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called for G7 leaders to hold a virtual meeting ‘in the coming days’ 
  • Defence Minister Ben Wallace says the Taliban takeover is a ‘failure of the international community’
  • Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says UK must work with ‘challenging’ partners on dealing with Taliban
  • US President Joe Biden called the situation ‘gut-wrenching’ but rejected blame for what’s happening
  • The Taliban now say they want to form an ‘inclusive, Islamic government’ with other factions – and are holding negotiations with senior politicians
  • Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has already fled the country after the Taliban reached Kabul on Sunday

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