Sunday July 21, 2019

IS restarts Radio Broadcasts in Afghanistan

The IS-run FM station, “Voice of the Caliphate,” was programmed in 2015 and was destroyed by the Afghan Government airstrikes in accordance with US.

An Islamic State Group member. Wikimedia Commons

After being knocked off the air by government airstrikes, so-called Islamic State group (IS) has restarted radio broadcasts into a restive area of Afghanistan.

The radio channel, which broadcasts from a remote mobile transmitter in the mountains along the Pakistan border, has returned with new programming to its lineup.  It can now be heard in the Arabic and Punjabi languages besides its former programs in Pashto and Dari, the two official languages of Afghanistan.  The programs encourage people to join IS and air religious chanting.

The IS-run FM station, “Voice of the Caliphate,” started programming last year, terrorizing locals with threats and IS propaganda.

In February, Afghan authorities said airstrikes, conducted with the support of the United States, destroyed the IS transmitting site along with its Internet communications and other facilities.

The governor of Achin district in Nangarhar, Haji Ghaleb Mujahed, confirmed to VOA that IS broadcasts are airing daily for one hour in the morning and one-and-a-half-hours in the evening. The broadcasts can be heard in the Dehbala, Ghanikhail and Achin districts in the province.

Residents say they are alarmed.

“The radio programs are anti-government, anti-people and have a very bad impact,” said one listener, Ubaidullah, who, like many Afghans, uses a first name only.

It is not clear what the Afghan government will do next. The provincial director of information and culture told VOA that the Afghan communications and technology department is responsible for looking into the matter.

Emblem of ISIS. Wikimedia Commons
Emblem of ISIS. Wikimedia Commons

And despite reports from listeners, Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesperson for the Nangarhar governor, told VOA the government has no knowledge of the broadcasts.

“We are not aware that this (radio) is back,” he said. “The radio has been shut down and does not exist.”

“If the radio has started broadcasts, it will be taken off air soon,” he said.

Related Article: ISIS eyes on the land of Tagore and Nazrul (Bangladesh)

Analysts say IS is taking a new propaganda-based tactic to help it recruit more people.

“It is a logical step from Daesh right now to put more energy into those kinds of outreach efforts,” Rebecca Zimmerman, a Rand Corporation military policy analyst, told VOA, using an acronym for the jihadist group.

IS has established a footprint in some parts of Nangarhar province, where its fighters have launched multiple attacks on Afghan security checkpoints. The Afghan government has said it is making gains against IS in Nangarhar.

Government and NATO forces recently launched offensives against IS and some areas have been cleared of IS fighters. (VOA)

Next Story

Measles Outbreak: N.Y. Eliminates Religious Exemptions for Vaccinations

The move comes while the United States is experiencing its worst outbreak of measles in 25 years

Measles, NY, Religious
In this March 27, 2019 file photo, a woman receives a measles, mumps and rubella vaccine at the Rockland County Health Department in Pomona, N.Y., north of New York City. VOA

New York is the latest state where parents can no longer refuse to vaccinate children on religious grounds.

Both houses of the New York State Assembly passed the measure Thursday and Governor Andrew Cuomo signed it immediately.

The move comes while the United States is experiencing its worst outbreak of measles in 25 years.

Parents in New York have up to 30 days to get their children immunized against contagious diseases such as measles, or they would be barred from school.

Measles, NY, Religious
New York is the latest state where parents can no longer refuse to vaccinate children on religious grounds. Pixabay

Some parents shouted curses and booed as state lawmakers voted in favor of the bill, calling it a violation of religious freedom.

“People came to this country to get away from exactly this kind of stuff,” a member of a Russian Orthodox Church said.

But the bill’s sponsor said he is not aware of anything in the Torah, the Bible, or the Koran commanding that children not get vaccinated.

“If you choose not to vaccinate your child, therefore potentially endangering other children…then you’re the one choosing not to send your children to school,” Bronx assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said.

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Most cases of measles in New York are in New York City’s Orthodox Jewish community.

Governor Cuomo said he “understands freedom of religion. I have heard the anti-vaxxers’ theory, but I believe both are overwhelmed by the public health risk.”

Health officials in the United States and around the world are fighting widely spread disinformation that vaccines against measles and other diseases cause autism.

Measles, NY, Religious
Both houses of the New York State Assembly passed the measure Thursday. Pixabay

They call the global anti-vaccination campaign a major threat to public health.

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Some of the New York lawmakers say some parents who believe vaccines are harmful may be using freedom of religion as an excuse not to get shots for their children. (VOA)