US to jam Taliban websites, radio links
The News, April 19, 2009
WASHINGTON: The Obama administration is starting a broad effort in Pakistan and Afghanistan to prevent the Taliban from using radio stations and websites to intimidate civilians and plan attacks, according to senior US officials.
As part of the classified effort, American military and intelligence personnel are working to jam the unlicensed radio stations in Pakistan’s lawless regions on the Afghanistan border that Taliban fighters use to broadcast threats and decrees, according to US influential daily WSJ.
US personnel are also trying to block the Pakistani chatrooms and websites that are part of the country’s burgeoning extremist underground. The websites frequently contain videos of attacks and inflammatory religious material that attempts to justify acts of violence.
The push takes the administration deeper into “psychological operations,” which attempt to influence how people see the US, its allies and its enemies. Officials involved with the new programme argue that psychological operations are a necessary part of reversing the deterioration of stability in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Taliban and other armed groups have carried out a wave of attacks in the two countries. US officials believe the Taliban enjoy an advantage by being able to freely communicate threats and decrees.
In Pakistan, Taliban leaders use unlicensed FM stations to recite the names of local Pakistani government officials, police officers and other figures who have been marked for death by the group. Hundreds of people named in the broadcasts have later been killed, according to US and Pakistani officials.
“The Taliban aren’t just winning the information war — we’re not even putting up that much of a fight,” said a senior US official in Afghanistan. “We need to make it harder for them to keep telling the population that they’re in control and can strike at any time.”
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