While it is hard enough as a generally-law abiding citizen to avoid digital platforms in this day and age, it seems that terrorists aren't immune to its draw either, proven by one notorious Taliban leader listing "jihad" as a skill on LinkedIn. Yup, you read right. Ehsanullah Ehsan, a senior Taliban commander wanted in connection with Malala Yousafzai's attempted murder in 2012, allegedly had a LinkedIn profile.
Described as "self-employed," The Telegraph reported that Ehsan listed himself as a spokesman for a Taliban splinter group called TTP Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, "since January 2010." His profile had all the details you would want to list on the networking site for professionals, should you wish to attract potential employers — or recruits, in Ehsan's case: His photograph, where he went to school, his employment history and language abilities. Ehsan's skills also encompassed "jihad and journalism."
In 2012, after the Taliban shot teenager Malala Yousafzai in the head for promoting education for Pakistani girls, sparking international outrage, Ehsan told Al Jazeera:
She is a Western-minded girl. She always speaks against us. We will target anyone who speaks against the Taliban. We warned her several times to stop speaking against the Taliban and to stop supporting Western non-governmental organisations, and to come to the path of Islam.
Pakistani authorities have placed a $1 million bounty on Ehsan's head after he claimed his group at the time, Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was responsible for the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate's attempted assassination. Ehsan has since founded TTP Jamaat-ul-Ahrar along with other former TTP members, a group whose leader, Omar Khalid Khorasani, whose uncompromising brutality has been said to be on par with that of ISIS leader's, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
However, that Ehsan managed to build a LinkedIn page with 69 connections might turn out to be a huge sham, after all. LinkedIn removed the profile on Friday after being contacted by The Telegraph, and a spokesperson told the British daily that it might be a fake account, pointing to its IP address and the “lack of Taliban recruiting messages." She added:
Can’t say for certain that it is someone else … But I can say that our security team has a high degree of confidence that it is a fake account, which is reason enough to restrict it. Also can’t say for certain who might have set it up if it is fake.
Although it isn't clear whether LinkedIn has ever faced a problem like that before — I'll venture to say that extremist militants don't usually try to make "business" connections on the site — other social networking platforms have been working to stave off online extremism on their sites, because, as we all know by now, the ever-terrifying ISIS is really, really good at recruiting new members through social media.
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