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Taliban Considers US Mass Surveillance Plan, Also Meets with Huawei

Updated: Jan 9

The Taliban in Afghanistan is reportedly considering the use of a mass surveillance plan previously developed by the United States.

Taliban fighters
Credits: REUTERS

According to an interior ministry spokesman, the Taliban aims to create a large-scale camera surveillance network for Afghan cities, supplementing the existing cameras in the capital, Kabul. The Taliban has also held discussions with Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei regarding potential cooperation.

The primary objective of this surveillance network is to prevent attacks by international militant groups, including Islamic State. The Taliban has engaged in talks with various foreign nations, including the US and China, to address this issue. However, concerns have been raised about the Taliban's ability to fund such a program and there are worries that the resources may be used to suppress protests.

Details about how the Taliban plans to expand and manage mass surveillance, including obtaining the US plan, have not been previously disclosed. The rollout of the mass camera system will focus on important areas in Kabul and other cities and is part of a four-year security strategy. The Taliban has already developed two security maps, one created by the US for the previous government and another by Turkey.

The US State Department has clarified that it is not partnering with the Taliban and has emphasised the Taliban's responsibility to prevent providing safe haven to terrorists. The Turkish government has not yet commented on the matter.

The Taliban reportedly had a preliminary discussion with Huawei in August about the potential network, but no firm plans or contracts have been established. Huawei has stated that no plan was discussed during the meeting. China's Foreign Ministry has expressed support for the peace and reconstruction process in Afghanistan and the practical cooperation of Chinese enterprises.

There are currently over 62,000 cameras in Kabul and other cities, which are monitored from a central control room. The last major update to Kabul's camera system occurred in 2008. However, the Taliban's plan faces challenges such as intermittent power cuts and the need for funding after a significant economic contraction and the withdrawal of aid.

The Taliban's discussions with Huawei took place after China met with Pakistan and the Taliban's acting foreign minister to emphasise cooperation on counter-terrorism. China has expressed concern about the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and its presence in Afghanistan. The Taliban denies that militancy poses a threat to their rule and has conducted raids on Islamic State cells in Kabul.

In implementing a mass surveillance system, concerns have been raised about potential violations of fundamental rights and the targeting of civil society members and protesters. The Taliban has stated that the system will be operated in accordance with Islamic Sharia law, which prohibits recording in private spaces.

  • The Taliban is considering using a US mass surveillance plan and has held discussions with Huawei.

  • The surveillance network aims to prevent attacks by international militant groups.

  • Concerns have been raised about the Taliban's ability to fund the program and potential rights violations.

  • The mass camera rollout will focus on important areas in Kabul and other cities.


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