By Thomas Joscelyn
The Islamic State’s so-called “province” in the Khorasan (an area covering Afghanistan and Pakistan) has set up a radio station to broadcast anti-Taliban messages and other propaganda. The station is named “Voice of the Caliphate” and it broadcasts on a FM airwave that can be heard in some parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The pro-Islamic State segments are usually uploaded via Spreaker, which provides users with an application to create their own “on-demand audio podcasts,” and then distributed online using social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Telegram.
Authorities in the Nangarhar province, where the Islamic State’s Khorasan “province” is based, claimed to have jammed the station’s signal earlier this month. But the “Voice of the Caliphate” continues to broadcast its messages and also distribute them online. One Spreaker account viewed by The Long War Journal currently hosts more than 30 audio clips from the radio station. The most recent was recorded on Dec. 30.
During one broadcast on December 28, the station recounted a recent battle with the Taliban. The Long War Journal has obtained a translation of the 30 minute program, which originally aired in Pashto.
An unknown presenter began the program by claiming that “hundreds” of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency’s “mercenaries,” acting in the name of the Taliban’s “emirate,” attacked the Islamic State’s mujahideen in the Nazyan District of Nangarhar. The Islamic State has consistently accused the Taliban of being a puppet for Pakistan’s ISI, which is the country’s primary intelligence service. It is a claim that has some truth to it, as the ISI has long backed the Taliban’s operations. The “caliphate’s” men are eager to point the relationship out, because it tarnishes the Taliban’s jihadist credentials.
The “Voice of the Caliphate” said the Islamic State’s men put up a “heroic resistance,” fighting off mercenary militias from Pakistan, Iran and Russia. A number of fighters from these groups were “arrested” and “taken hostage.” The Khorasan “province” also reportedly “seized different types of equipment and weapons” from their foes during the battle, according to the broadcast.
In recent days, some jihadists who are opposed to the Islamic State have posted images of four men who were decapitated, with their heads displayed on a pile of rocks. The pictures purportedly depict Khorasan “province” fighters who were captured and beheaded by either locals or the Taliban. The Long War Journal has decided not to reproduce the gruesome images.
In its Dec. 28 broadcast, the “Voice of the Caliphate’s” radio presenter denied that Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s followers had been slain in such a fashion. Instead, the deceased were supposedly “refugees” from Lashkar-e Islam, which merged with other jihadist groups to form a new Pakistani Taliban coalition in March. The radio station accused Lashkar-e Islam of have a “security arrangement” with the Afghan government and claimed the “powerful lions of the Islamic State are not so weak that they can be arrested alive by the apostates and then be beheaded by them.”
The Islamic State’s radio station blasted Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, who became the Taliban’s emir in July, saying he is an “apostate” and “juniors” in the Taliban’s ranks shouldn’t “follow the orders of the apostate leaders.”
The latter message is consistent with other propaganda disseminated by the Khorasan “province.” The group’s statements, published on social media, regularly call for “junior” members of the Taliban to defect.
Thus far, it does not appear that the radio station has garnered many listeners. But it has attracted the attention of Afghan officials. The station not only seeks to undermine the Taliban, but also the Afghan government. And like other propaganda efforts launched by the Islamic State and its “provinces,” it could grow over time.
Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for The Long War Journal.