Taliban smartphone app removed from Google Play store

The Alemarah app has been used to discuss possible attacks against British forces across the Middle East. Picture: Greg Macvean

The Alemarah app has been used to discuss possible attacks against British forces across the Middle East. Picture: Greg Macvean

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A smartphone app created by the Taliban that included official statements on the Afghan group has been removed from the Google Play Store.

Alemarah, which appeared on Google’s store for Android apps on April 1, was in the Pashto language and included videos released by the group as well as major statements on their activity.

The hardline group’s spokesman told Bloomberg the app had been removed because of “technical issues” and would reappear, however it is understood Google removed the app because it violated the firm’s policy on hate speech.

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According to the Taliban spokesman the app is part of “advanced technologies efforts to make a more global audience”.

Though Google declined to comment on any specific apps, the company said in a statement: “Our policies are designed to provide a great experience for users and developers. That’s why we remove apps from Google Play that violate those policies.”

The app was first reported by the US-based Site Intel Group, an organisation that monitors jihadist activity.

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Extremist groups are increasingly turning to the digital world in order to reach more followers. Followers of Islamic State are known to actively use Twitter to recruit fighters to the group and promote the organisation, activity that has led hacktivist group Anonymous to “declare war” on the group, vowing to disrupt social media accounts and knock them offline.

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