The fast-unfolding crisis in Afghanistan, spearheaded by the Taliban’s territorial juggernaut and the fall of Kabul, also became a significant war of narratives. However, unlike traditional and social media use of other jihadist groups such as Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda, the Taliban does not operate in the shadows, but uses every media avenue possible to get its narrative out not just to the people of Afghanistan, but a worldwide audience.
A large section of Afghanistan being rural, tribal, uneducated, and not very connected with the Internet allows (although this has changed significantly since the early 2000s) the Taliban to use a mixture of old and new strategies to get their communications across. One of the most effective ways the Taliban has communicated with rural Afghanistan for years is using ‘night letters’ or shabnamah. Night letters are in effect on-paper communiques usually delivered by hand during the night to a village, a group or an individual or pasted on the wall of the local mosque of a locality, threatening consequences if the people or individual in question who did not follow the diktats.