A “New” Islamic Emirate? The Taliban’s Outreach Strategy in the Aftermath of Kabul

As the Taliban’s forces swept across Afghanistan in July and August, their triumphalist—and fundamentally revolutionary—discourse became exponentially more pronounced. The moment it seized Kabul, however, the Taliban had to reorder its communications priorities. As Afghanistan’s new de facto government, it needed to expand on what its outreach strategists had been doing to date, i.e., setting out political aspirations, emphasizing military capabilities, and attacking the legitimacy of adversaries. Now, it had to take on a more complex strategic communications task: demonstrating that its new state would be able to follow through on what as a movement it had been promising for decades. Drawing on tens of thousands of data points ingested by ExTrac’s automated crawlers from the Taliban’s online networks on Telegram and Twitter as well as an array of pro-Taliban static websites, this report examines how the fall of Kabul impacted the Taliban’s outreach strategy. 


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