What We Are Reading Today: Taliban Narratives — The Use and Power of Stories in the Afghanistan Conflict

Updated 21 April 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Taliban Narratives — The Use and Power of Stories in the Afghanistan Conflict

Two months after the 9/11 attacks and little more than a month after the Oct. 7, 2001 American-led invasion of Afghanistan, the Taliban were forced from Kabul and appeared to have been crushed.

But the fundamentalist movement proved surprisingly resilient and is now openly active in 70 percent of the country, according to the results of a January BBC survey.

Meanwhile, the occupation of Afghanistan has become the longest war in US history.

“Taliban Narratives: The Use and Power of Stories in the Afghanistan Conflict” by Thomas H. Johnson explains how and why the Taliban’s clever use of propaganda has enabled the insurgency to flourish.

As well as running their own websites and magazines, the militants have used everything from simple graffiti to poetry and self-produced DVDs to publicize their cause. In doing so, they have proved highly adept at rallying large numbers of Afghans to their side and outwitting the far more sophisticated propaganda campaigns of the US and NATO.


Algerian blogger accused of espionage sentenced to 10 years in prison

Updated 25 May 2018
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Algerian blogger accused of espionage sentenced to 10 years in prison

  • An Algerian blogger arrested last year over social media posts has been sentenced to 10 years in prison on espionage and other charges
  • Charges against the blogger, Merzoug Touati, included “incitement for taking up arms against the state”

ALGIERS: An Algerian blogger arrested last year over social media posts has been sentenced to 10 years in prison on espionage and other charges, a human rights activist said on Friday.
Charges against the blogger, Merzoug Touati, included “incitement for taking up arms against the state” and “encouraging crowd gathering,” said Said Salhi, a member of the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights.
They also included espionage “with foreign agents, in particular from Israel, with the goal of tarnishing Algeria’s diplomatic position,” Salhi said.
Touati was arrested in January 2017 after he published a Facebook message and a video on YouTube on accounts that were later deleted.
One post called for protests against a 2017 finance law, while the video included an interview with an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman who denied accusations by the Algerian authorities that Israel was behind anti-government protests in Algeria at the time.
Amnesty International said it had reviewed court documents that list the posts as evidence against Touati and that it had found “no incitement to violence or advocacy of hatred.”
“Rather, his posts were covered by freedom of expression in relation to his work as a citizen-journalist,” the rights group said in a statement.
Touati was sentenced on Thursday by a court in Bejaia, east of the capital Algiers.
He has 10 days to appeal the verdict, according to Algerian law.