- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
“The Taliban have really been latecomers to the world of online video, and their initial forays haven’t been terribly successful,” Kohlman tells Danger Room. While the group has used YouTube in an official capacity before, placing video of captured America soldier on the site, Kohlman says that the use of embedded YouTube video on their site is a first. In other words, the Taliban is actually more dinosaurish about social media than the Pentagon. Way to be Web 2.0, Mullah Omar!
So what finally pushed the Afghan insurgent group onto YouTube? Bandwidth, Kohlman explains.
“Recent efforts to distribute high-resolution jihadi media in standard formats — RMVB, AVI, MPEG — have simply overloaded their web servers and exhausted their bandwidth. Now, it appears that the Taliban webmasters have finally come around and recognized the merits of YouTube, using the U.S.-based service to test out directly embedding video into their sites. By turning to YouTube, the Taliban gain a free, highly-reliable video broadcast service with the potential to reel in a vast, viral audience.”
And that’s not the Taliban’s only foray into Web 2.0. The "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" Website allows readers to share posts via Twitter, Facebook, Digg, and other social networking services.
The YouTube channel isn’t much right now. Just a few non-narrated montages of car bombings and gun battles set to music (Judging from the soundtrack, the Taliban has also embraced auto-tuning.) But it will be interesting to see if YouTube moves to shut it down.