NATO Responds to Kabul Attacks with a Twitter Flame War

ISAF criticizes the Taliban on Twitter for not caring about its foot soldiers

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The Twitter feed for NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, as you might expect, issues its fair share of press releases, battlefield updates, and boasts of successful missions. But occasionally it can be surprisingly feisty. In the wake of yesterday's assault on the U.S. Embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul, for example, ISAF has decided to directly lock horns with the group claiming responsibility for the attack: the Taliban. In a tweet this morning, ISAF linked to a video of an ISAF commander checking on his troops after Tuesday's protracted fighting and baited the Taliban's Twitter feed, @alemarahweb. "Hey @alemarahweb, does your boss do this?" ISAF asked. The Taliban, which rarely responds to taunts and typically confines its tweets to reports of attacks on allied forces and their "puppets," has not responded as of this writing.

Hours earlier, ISAF had asked the Taliban how much longer it planned to "put innocent Afghans in harm's way," prompting another Taliban member on Twitter, Abdulqahar Balkhi, to lash out at NATO for putting civilians in "harm's way" for the past 10 years by destroying villages and markets. NATO, in turn, invoked a recent U.N. report: "Really, @abalkhi UNAMA reported 80% of civilians causalities are caused by insurgent (your) activities." For the record,'s Richard Allen Smith called this spat early. "Would the universe explode if we saw a twitter feud between @ISAFmedia and @alemarahweb," he asked five hours ago.

The aggressive tweeting isn't the only strategy NATO seems to be employing in its social media battle against the Taliban. When the alliance released proprietary footage yesterday of NATO forces battling insurgents in Kabul, Wired's Spencer Ackerman suggested that NATO, in releasing the video, was trying to prevent the Taliban from scoring a propaganda victory:

Soldiers, Marines and their Afghan and foreign counterparts work calmly--but fiercely in tandem to direct rifle fire against the insurgents. Message: We got this--even if the Taliban just shattered the sense that NATO and the Afghan government at least had the capitol locked down

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.