Oops! Taliban Reveal Identities of Their Mailing List Members

PHOTO: Taliban fighters line up as they hand over their weapons to join the peace process in Herat, Afghanistan, Nov. 3, 2012.

Somewhere out there, Mullah Omar must be shaking his head.

In a Dilbert-esque faux pax, a Taliban spokesperson sent out a routine email last week with one notable difference.He publicly CC'd the names of everyone on his mailing list.

The names were disclosed in an email by Qari Yousuf Ahmedi, an official Taliban spokesperson, on Saturday. The email was a press release he received from the account of Zabihullah Mujahid, another Taliban spokesperson. Ahmedi then forwarded Mujahid's email to the full Taliban mailing list, but rather than using the BCC function, or blind carbon copy which keeps email addresses private, Ahmedi made the addresses public.

"Taliban have included all 4 of my email addresses on the leaked distribution list," tweeted journalist Mustafa Kazemi, a prolific Kabul-based tweeter with more than 9,500 followers. "Quite reassuring to my safety."

The list, made up of more than 400 recipients, consists mostly of journalists, but also includes an address appearing to belong to a provincial governor, an Afghan legislator, several academics and activists, an l Afghan consultative committee, and a representative of Gulbuddein Hekmatar, an Afghan warlord whose outlawed group Hezb-i-Islami is believed to be behind several attacks against coalition troops.

The Taliban routinely send out press releases to their mailing list, often claiming responsibility for attacks against Afghan and coalition targets. They are known for exaggerating casualty figures.

In recent weeks, the Taliban have increased the number of emails they send out, growing from just a handful every week, to several per day. Most of the emails are sent from Ahmedi's account. The increase coincides with the end of the annual Taliban fighting season, prompting one local journalist to joke, "I guess when fighting season ends, emailing season begins."

Qari Yousuf Ahmedi did not return emails requesting a comment.

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