SMS Terror: Not so new but, this is a new twist
One of the Taliban’s most effective tools to persuade Afghans not to work with the U.S. or its allies is the night letter — a note warning people they’ll be targeted for death unless they change their infidel-loving ways. But that’s too analog. These days, the Taliban is mass texting gruesome videos to Afghans’ cellphones to spread the same message.
The insurgency’s media committee produces videos like this one — which we won’t embed — glorifying suicide bombers and posts them on Taliban websites like Shahamat.info and Alemarah-iea.net. Befitting the growing importance of social media to insurgents, Facebook pages purporting to be adjuncts of Taliban propaganda networks pop up to display the imagery, hoping to slip past Facebook’s usage police.
But to maximize the videos’ reach, insurgents send them out through SMS chains, until they eventually reach unsuspecting Afghans. It’s a quick way to take night-letter videos viral — and disguise the usage chain from its origin, preventing authorities from shutting down the distribution system.
The rest is at Wired
Since the communications infrastructure has been built up some more with the help of the likes of private contractors in Afghanistan, it is only natural that mass SMS barrages would be used by the Taliban. This is not a new thing though to the jihadis, they have been passing along shahid videos for some time on mobile phones via SMS. The twist here is now instead of passing along just propaganda, they are also sending threats. It would seem the Talib’s have been taking cues from the rest of the world on social media and its uses.
Of course, the original method of scaring people into submission, to me, seems to be much more visceral, the “night letter” This is where people tack up a letter to your door and bang on it, scaring the occupants, something akin to a jack booted Nazi door kick. Except in this case these guys run away instead of coming in and terrorizing everyone. It’s the Taliban version of leaving a dead rat tacked to the door.
On the other side of this though, I have to wonder about with all of the new infrastructure, there must be some potential to be tracking these SMS originators through their ESN’s right? Not all phones can be “burner” phones there in Afghanistan right? Even if they are, surely the cell towers can’t be that plentiful so as to make DF-ing them ponderous? If I were the anti terror forces, I would be heavily monitoring the comm’s anyway… So, keep on SMS-ing everyone Taliban! Soon the night letter will be coming to your flap.