For at least the fifth time since 2010, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid is claiming that Taliban communication (read propaganda) efforts have been tainted by an alleged cyberattack. This time, Mujahid claims that a false communique indicating the start of a Taliban ceasefire for the month of Ramadan was released using email accounts attributed to the him and the Taliban.
Details on Mujahid’s claims were provided by Reuters:
The Afghan Taliban promised on Friday to continue attacks over Ramadan, rejecting as a fake an insurgent email promising a halt in violence over the coming Muslim holy month and saying it was the work of government intelligence.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the message sent in his name promising a temporary cessation of violence with next week’s start of Ramadan was the latest incident in a simmering cyber war between intelligence agencies and the insurgents.
“In that mail the enemy losers have tried to influence attacks by mujahideen fighters,” Mujahid said. “We strongly reject sending any such email on a stoppage of operations.”
Afghan spy agency the National Directorate of Security has increasingly targeted the Taliban’s sophisticated messaging network, which includes websites and email accounts, social media and spokesmen using noms de guerre.
“During the holy month of Ramadan, jihad has major rewards. And mujahideen will continue to employ all their fighting techniques to mount attacks on the enemy,” [Mujahid] said.
So far, there has been no statement from the Afghan government or the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) regarding the Taliban spokesman’s claims.
Last year, the Taliban’s El Emara website was hacked twice between April 3 and April 26. And in late June 2011, a sophisticated cyberattack widely attributed to Western intelligence organizations (but never confirmed) sent false messages about the death of the Taliban’s supreme commander Mullah Mohammad Omar from two of the Taliban spokesmen’s mobile phones, emails, and the El Emara website. The text messages sent from the phone of Zabihullah Mujahid to Reuters allegedly read: “Spiritual leader Mullah Mohammad Omar Mujahid has died” and “May Allah bless his soul.” In June 2010, similar hacking incidents reportedly compromised the El Emara website.
For previous coverage on Taliban claims that their communication efforts have been hacked or compromised, see:
- LWJ report, Taliban website hacked for 3rd time in a year, April 26, 2012
- Threat Matrix report, Taliban deny Mullah Omar is dead, say website, phones were hacked, July 20, 2011
- Threat Matrix report, Taliban sites hacked: Who is the ‘Voice of Truth’?, June 13, 2010