Pakistani Taliban now on Facebook

ISLAMABAD — It’s a world of likes, apps and status updates, so it was bound to happen: The Pakistani Taliban now has its own Facebook page.

The Pakistani insurgent group’s spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, confirmed that it had put a page called Umar Media TTP on the social media website. TTP is the acronym for Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, the group’s name in Urdu.

Formed in 2007, the Pakistani Taliban is an amalgam of factions united by the goal of toppling the government and imposing Shariah, or Islamic law. The Pakistani Taliban maintains links with al-Qaida, the Afghan Taliban and other Pakistani militant groups entrenched in their country’s tribal belt.

Authorities in Islamabad have accused the Pakistani Taliban of engineering some of the country’s worst terrorist strikes, including the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in December 2007. The group also claimed responsibility for the Oct. 9 attempt to kill Malala Yousafzai, a 15-year-old Pakistani girl who had defied the Taliban’s attempts to deny girls an education.

The use of websites and social media sites by Islamic militant groups has become increasingly common in recent years, as they try to spread their message and cast a wider net for potential recruits. Al-Qaida is particularly active on the Internet, and Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a Pakistani group that the U.S. says acts as a front for the militant organization Lashkar-e-Taiba, maintains a page on Facebook. Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s leader, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, is Lashkar-e-Taiba’s founder and is widely viewed in the West and in India as the alleged mastermind behind the 2008 attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai that killed 166 people.

Agence France-Presse news service quoted the U.S.-based SITE Intelligence group, which monitors militant activities on the Internet, as saying the Pakistani Taliban is using its Facebook presence as a recruiting tool.

As of Friday evening, the Pakistani Taliban’s Facebook page had 281 “likes.” Its latest post invites visitors to become contributors to a new quarterly magazine the group is publishing called Ahyah-e-Khilafat, or Sign of the Caliphate.

“Pen is mightier than the sword. Now you have a chance to use this mighty weapon,” the post states. “Would you like to be a writer for Ahyah-e-Khilafat? You can write to us on the topic of your choice, or on jihadi current affairs, history, Islamic movements” or the plight of Muslims.

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