The Taliban is growing in Twitter notoriety after claiming via tweet that it had assassinated a senior Afghan election official.
On Wednesday morning two gunmen fatally shot Mohammad Amanullah, head of the Independent Election Commission in Kunduz, in northern Afghanistan, according to a report in the New York Times. Following the incident, a tweet boasting about the killing was sent out from the Taliban’s official twitter account, @zabihmujahid. The account is controlled by Zabiullah Mujahid, described in the profile as the “official spokesman of Islamic Emirate Of Afghanistan.”
“At 9 a.m. this morning, Engineer Mohammad Aman head of Kunduz Independent Election Commission was killed by our Mujahedeen in Takharistan area of Kunduz city,” the tweet said in Pashto, translated into English by the Times.
The tweet has boosted the relatively small account, which went from 1,400 followers before the announcement to 1,517 and counting since it went out. Many of the new followers are journalists, including staffers at Mashable, BuzzFeed and the Associated Press.
Following the increased attention, the account has also attracted hecklers, with some users taunting the Taliban with Twitter-style jokes and snarky comments.
@zabihmujahid smile for the drones.
â€” thebizznass (@Kendovonwinsor) September 18, 2013
â€” Joey Boots (@JoeyBoots) September 18, 2013
@zabihmujahid you people are what we like to call WEIRDO'S!!
â€” kingsofleonlive (@kingsofleonlive) September 18, 2013
Feel free to abuse the Taliban at @zabihmujahid
â€” Milton Phoenix (@Milton_Phoenix) September 18, 2013
@zabihmujahid You have sex with animals. That is all.
â€” Jon (@28Loki) September 18, 2013
Several users pointed out the irony that the avowed anti-Western fundamentalist group is now communicating via Twitter. The Taliban account has been active for a little more than a year, but has so far flown under the radar.
According to the Times, a Kunduz police official confirmed the killing but said it was too soon to say if the Taliban were actually responsible. The tweet may be the first time the Taliban has announced an assassination on Twitter. It may also be the last if Twitter Inc. decides to enforce its terms of service, which prohibits using Twitter “for any unlawful purposes or in furtherance of illegal activities.”
The Taliban itself only follows eight Twitter accounts, one of which is ABC News, the only Western news outlet on the list.