Taliban ringtones become social camouflage for some in Afghanistan
A new cottage industry has sprung up in Afghanistan: ringtones.
But it’s not just any ringtones. According to a report this week by The Wall Street Journal, merchants are loading some of the favorite songs of the Taliban onto phones, which are being used as a form of social camouflage at checkpoints.
For just a couple dollars, many merchants in the more populated areas will connect mobile phones to a computer and add graphics and music that make the user seem to be a Taliban sympathizer, that way when the phone is checked for any forbidden media, the holder won’t be abused by Taliban soldiers.
The prevalence of checkpoints has reportedly led many to begin taking additional precautions, and cleansing mobile devices of all apparent Western influence is only the latest.
U.S. forces have been drawing down in Afghanistan this year after President Barack Obama ordered a surge of more than 30,000 soldiers in 2009.
It’s still not clear when combat operations in the country will end, but the administration has set a deadline for withdrawal in 2014, with Vice President Joe Biden calling that the “drop dead date.”