Kabul siege shows insurgents media savvy

Militants also have a presence on micro-blogging website Twitter.

Updated: Sep 18, 2011, 17:29 PM IST

Kabul: By holding Kabul`s diplomatic zone
under siege for 19 hours last week, insurgents backed up by a
slick media operation again showed their skill at grabbing
headlines and drawing out news coverage.

Taliban spokesmen fed the Western press with regular text
messages during an attack which -- while claiming 15 lives, a
moderate toll for Afghanistan -- was the longest of its kind
yet, dominating international news for two days.

Afterwards, its slick "Voice of Jihad" website -- with
press releases in languages including English and a logo of
crossed swords surrounding a copy of the Koran -- carried a
detailed, though exaggerated, summary of events.

The attack, which targeted the US embassy and was linked
to the Taliban-allied Haqqani network, was the latest in the
Afghan capital to show insurgents` grasp of the Western media.

Scott Stewart of intelligence analysts Stratfor said that
the assault`s planners would have known the type of weapons
used -- assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades -- would
not seriously damage the US embassy.

"Because of that, we believe that this attack was
intended really to send a message, to be more symbolic in
nature," he said.

Many news outlets carried live, minute-by-minute accounts
during the event, combining Taliban statements with Twitter
updates from witnesses at the scene and breaking news from
official sources.

Militants also have a presence on micro-blogging website
Twitter, while supporters on Facebook post propaganda videos,
often of attacks on foreign troops.