While the technological capabilities of ISIS have been widely reported, it now seems that the Taliban is expanding its reach into the online world. An app created by the Islamic fundamentalist group was discovered on the Play Store late last week, but was quickly removed by Google.
The Pashto language app, called Alemarah, included official statements and videos from the Taliban. It was the first application to come from the group, and was “part of our advanced technological efforts to make more global audience," according to Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed.
The app was discovered and reported on Friday by the SITE Intelligence Group, a non-governmental counterterrorism organization. Google removed it soon after for violating the company’s policy that states apps are not allowed to “advocate against groups of people based on their race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”
"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," Google said in a statement.
Mujahed claimed the app’s disappearance is due to “technical issues,” and that he expects it to return to the Google Play store soon.
Much like Islamic State, the Taliban has quite a noticeable online presence. The group has a website that is run in five languages and numerous social media accounts. It also uses the encrypted messaging service Telegram, which previously blocked dozens of ISIS-related channels.
"The app will help Taliban to further psychologically weaken Afghanistan by their propaganda reports,” Jawid Kohistani, an independent Kabul-based security analyst, told Bloomberg.