Afghan Taliban releases mobile app as new PR tool

Alemarah app was initially available on Google Play store, but has since been removed.

(Futuretrillionaire/Flickr)
(Futuretrillionaire/Flickr)

The Afghan Taliban has branched out its digital communications strategy by developing a smartphone app to help disseminate its message to more people.

The app, called Alemarah, has been developed for the Android operating system, according to news portal Site Intel Group.

It allows users access to Taliban videos, speeches and official statements in Pashto.

The Taliban confirmed to Bloomberg that it created the app, which was launched on 1 April, as "part of our advanced technological efforts to make a more global audience".

It was removed from Google’s Play Store shortly after for breaching the company’s terms regarding hate speech.

But the incident has led some to question the stringency of Google’s app approval system, as Alemarah was available for two days before being taken down.

In a statement, Google said: "Our policies are designed to provide a great experience for users and developers. That's why we remove apps from Google Play that violate those policies."

While extremist groups using digital communications is not new, the recent foray into mobile apps shows that they are keen to expand their reach, particularly among connected, younger people.

The Taliban has run a Twitter account for years, which pushes out propaganda, and it also has an account on encrypted messaging service Telegram.  

Moreover, according to Tore Hamming, an expert in militant Islam at the European University Institute who spoke to the Guardian, the Taliban’s new app was probably created to keep up with so-called Islamic State.

Isis is renowned for its use of digital communications to promote its ideology, and it released an Android app last year.

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