Passport

The Taliban’s YouTube channel

Danger Room reports that the Taliban have finally embraced online video sharing and launched Istiqlal Media, an official YouTube channel. Terrorist media expert Evan Kohlman comments: “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 ...

Danger Room reports that the Taliban have finally embraced online video sharing and launched Istiqlal Media, an official YouTube channel. Terrorist media expert Evan Kohlman comments:

“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. 

Danger Room reports that the Taliban have finally embraced online video sharing and launched Istiqlal Media, an official YouTube channel. Terrorist media expert Evan Kohlman comments:

“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. 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy  Twitter: @joshuakeating

More from Foreign Policy

The Taliban delegation leaves the hotel after meeting with representatives of Russia, China, the United States, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Qatar in Moscow on March 19.

China and the Taliban Begin Their Romance

Beijing has its eyes set on using Afghanistan as a strategic corridor once U.S. troops are out of the way.

An Afghan security member pours gasoline over a pile of seized drugs and alcoholic drinks

The Taliban Are Breaking Bad

Meth is even more profitable than heroin—and is turbocharging the insurgency.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya addresses the U.N. Security Council from her office in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Sept. 4, 2020.

Belarus’s Unlikely New Leader

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya didn’t set out to challenge a brutal dictatorship.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid

What the Taliban Takeover Means for India

Kabul’s swift collapse leaves New Delhi with significant security concerns.