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Google Removed an App Developed by the Taliban from the Play Store

April 4
5:57 AM 2016

Google has removed an application developed by Islamist fundamentalist militant network Taliban from Google's Play Store for Android. The application, launched last week, was going to be used by the group to establish its profile and presence worldwide.

The launch of the app, called Alemarah, was first reported by the SITE Intel Group based in the U.S. The agency, which monitors radical Islamic social media, reported Alemarah's launch on Friday. According to The Seattle Times, the app includes content such as official statements and videos from the Taliban. The app used Pashto language, spoken in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran.

On Sunday, a spokesperson for Google confirmed that the app is no longer available in Play Store. A spokesperson also stated, "Our policies are designed to provide a great experience for users and developers. That's why we remove apps from Google Play that violate those policies." However, a spokesman for Taliban Zabihullah Mujahed said that the app was removed by Taliban on Saturday to fix some technical issues. Mujahed noted that the app would be available shortly.

The smartphones application is a part of Taliban's ambition to expand their presence digitally to reach global audience. The militant group also have official Twitter and Facebook accounts, which provides updates and spread propaganda. The Taliban also has a channel on the encrypted messaging Telegram, as well as a website in five languages, including English and Arabic. The Afghan government has taken down Taliban's social media accounts and website several times as an effort to limit the group's propaganda coverage.

A militant Islamism researcher at the European University Institute, Tore Hamming, told The Guardian that the new app is also likely to be part of the Taliban's rivalry with Islamic State. The group is known for its proficient use of social media as well as other digital platforms to support its propaganda efforts. Last year, the Islamic State has also developed an Android app to secure its communications.

The use of the Pashto language also show that the target audience is likely to be mainly local, as opposed to the Islamic State, that embraced international online jihadi recruiting using digital platforms. According to Fortune, the Taliban has long been primarily focused on building its influence in Afghanistan, while still recruiting internationally.

The Taliban has released an app for Android smartphones last week. However, Google has made a move and removed the application from the Play Store. The militant group is seeking to establish its existence in Afghanistan, as well as globally. 

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