NATO, the most advanced military alliance in the world, just unveiled a new weapon in the fight against terrorism: the tweet-seeking missile.
The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), NATO’s security and development arm in Afghanistan, unleashed a slew of these tweet-seeking missiles against a Taliban-run Twitter account last week after Taliban gunman opened fire on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. The Taliban account was quick to retaliate, spurring a digital firefight between NATO and Taliban social media soldiers.
@ISAFmedia was quick to condemn the Kabul attack, saying: “Re: Taliban spox on #Kabul attack: the outcome is inevitable. Question is how much longer will terrorist put innocent Afghans in harm’s way?” The ISAF then tweeted the number of civilians that insurgents had killed that day.
Taliban-affiliated @ABalkhi quickly returned fire, saying: “@ISAFmedia I dnt knw.u hve bn pttng thm n 'harm's way' fr da pst 10 yrs.Razd whole vllgs n mrkts.n stil hv da nrve to tlk bout 'harm's way'.”
The ISAF, faced with a direct attack did not retreat (or retweet for that matter). The account shot back: “Really,@ABalkhi? UNAMA reported 80% of civilians causalities are caused by insurgent (your) activities goo.gl/FylwU.” The ISAF attack was a success and the Taliban account was forced to retreat, firing only a weak response which was ignored by ISAF social media soldiers.
This short firefight could be the first battle in a long social media war, so how did the ISAF fare? Victory on all fronts. The direct response was a bold tactic but it worked well when paired with credible evidence. Then the ISAF social media soldiers secured victory by not responding to the Taliban’s petty final attack.
Twitter warfare may become a new frontier in the war on terror as NATO continues to battle for the hearts and minds of the Afghani and Iraqi peoples. NATO has won the battle and if they continue to engage the enemy, they will win the war.