August 18, 2021

Taliban Used Whatsapp in Takeover of Afghanistan Capital

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By: Konrad Holden

In Brief: 
Whatsapp, a Facebook-owned encrypted messaging app, was used by the Taliban in their takeover of Kabul. Reports show that the Taliban has been communicating with Afghan military members prior to the takeover and giving them an option to surrender. The Taliban also immediately set up and hotline for Kabul residents to report looting and violence via Whatsapp. That Whatsapp hotline number was recently disabled by the company.

The Background: 
Over the weekend, Taliban forces marched into Kabul, Afghanistan and overthrew the US-backed government virtually without firing a single shot. Many analysts have blamed the way President Biden withdrew the troops for the defeat. 

And it appears that the Taliban not only captured billions of dollars of US military equipment, but they also partially used US technology to do it.

One of the Taliban’s favorite phone apps is Facebook’s encrypted communication platform, Whatsapp. Many people use it to communicate internationally and domestically with friends and family. 

The Taliban used it to undo 20 years of US work in Afghanistan.

Before the takeover, Taliban operatives were putting out hotlines for Afghan National Security Forces members and police to surrender before any fighting began.

Taliban leaders also used Whatsapp to legitimize their new government by creating a Whatsapp hotline for citizens to report crimes and get help. 

Whatsapp did ban the hotline on Tuesday and is continually scanning accounts and content to block official Taliban channels. 

Notable Quotes: 

“The Taliban let the residents of Kabul know they were in control through WhatsApp, gave them numbers to call if they ran into any problems.” - Richard Hanania, president and founder of the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology

"It is time for Joe Biden to resign in disgrace for what he has allowed to happen to Afghanistan.” - former President Donald J. Trump

What do you think?
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