New media plan to combat Taleban
A radical new plan is being considered by the UK government to counter growing Taleban propaganda in Afghanistan, the BBC has learned.
The programme involves using new media like mobile phones and the internet to empower ordinary Afghans to contradict the prevailing Taleban message.
Non-governmental organisations would distribute mobile phones to Afghans so they can make their own video diaries.
Anti-Western films already circulate on Afghanistan's estimated 6m mobiles.
These films are also distributed among the country's half a million internet users.
The plan, devised by an outside consultant and said by the Foreign Office to "have merit," envisages having up to 100 short films made by Afghans ready in time for a film festival next summer.
Whitehall officials say the aim is to deprive the Taleban of its virtual monopoly on propaganda using new media.
BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner said there is a growing realisation in Whitehall and Washington that the US-led coalition has been losing the propaganda war in Afghanistan to the Taleban.
The coalition's reputation was particularly damaged by the recent distribution of mobile phone footage showing the bodies of dozens of Afghan civilians killed in a US-led raid in August, our correspondent added.