PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN // The Taliban is aggressively employing sophisticated communication techniques ranging from the internet and text messages to social media such as Facebook and Twitter to spread their message.
"We are using modern techniques of communication because we want our voice to be heard all over," Zabihullah Mujahid, the main spokesman for the Afghan Taliban, said in email. "You can't win war without this. It's key to victory."
The militants, operating on both sides of the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, have launched robust public-relations campaigns in both countries, which is making it difficult for two governments and their international allies to win the war of words with the Taliban.
As soon as a militant attack takes place in either of the two countries, Mr Mujahid or his Pakistani counterpart, Ehsanullah Ehsan, call journalists to claim responsibility.
Details of the attacks are sent by text messages, emails and faxes to media organisations. Mr Mujahid also posts comments on Twitter.
Perhaps the most effective propaganda tools for the militants are the video films and statements recorded on CDs and DVDs, some of which make their way to the militant websites and are posted on YouTube.
They include emotional speeches, pro-Taliban poems and songs in Pashto, Urdu and Arabic and footage of destruction caused by foreign forces in Afghanistan and Pakistani forces on their side of the border.
The videos often show images of civilians, including children and women, said to have been killed in air strikes or missile strikes by US drones in Pakistan.
Some videos have also shown decapitated bodies of suspected spies in an effort to intimidate local adversaries.
A few weeks ago video footage was uploaded on YouTube that showed how militants were terrorising people in Pakistan's North Waziristan, a major sanctuary for Al Qaeda and Taliban militants.
The video shows members of a hit squad in black hoods roaming in a town. They pick up a man they say is US spy and throw him into a van as seemingly terrified bystanders look on. Another man is shown as he is being forced into a pickup truck. In another YouTube posting both men are shown being blown up by explosives put at their feet.
The Pakistani Taliban have set up an independent media house, Umar Studios, in Waziristan where they produce thousands of DVDs and CDs containing militant propaganda every month, according to militant sources.
A Taliban source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the cameramen are sent to the battle zones to film the fighting scenes. The footage is then submitted in the offices of Umar Studios where they are edited and produced. About 50 mujahideen are affiliated with the media cell of the Taliban. the source said.
"We have highly trained mujahideen who dub jihadi songs and poems on this footage. Some of these were uploaded on YouTube while the rest are recorded on DVDs and CDs and also sent through mobile phones to our fighters to keep their morale high," he added.
Sajjad Mohmand, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban in Mohmand, a tribal region on the Afghan border where 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed in late November in a cross-border Nato stike, said they had named their media cell "Ahya-e-Khilafat", or revival of Islamic Caliphate.
He said the media cell also puts out a quarterly magazine Khilafat.
Mr Mohmand said they run an FM radio station in the region that broadcasts militant propaganda for two hours a day.
The Taliban had banned television when they were in power in Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001.
"Our clerics have forbidden still pictures but they have allowed movie films as it is an effective tool to counter enemies' propaganda," Mr Mujahid said.
Analysts say the militant movement on both sides of the border is now dominated by young Taliban recruits who are more educated and tech-savvy than their seniors. Many of the Taliban members who graduated from Quranic schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan have also learnt modern media techniques from their Al Qaeda-linked comrades in western countries.
"The generational change has forced them to change their propaganda tactics. Now a new breed of Taliban is emerging which is embracing modern techniques," Rahimullah Yusufzai, a senior Pakistani journalist and an expert on militant affairs, said.
Despite the extensive use of modern technology, the militants still rely heavily on traditional methods of disseminating information, such as handouts, flyers and leaflets thrown on to the streets at night with warnings in areas where internet is not available.
"The situation is quite alarming for both Pakistan and Afghanistan as militants are using all available means to spread their message but the governments' response is slow and ineffective," Amir Rana, director of the Pakistan Institute of Peace studies said. "So far, I haven't seen any coordinated and effective strategy by the two governments to counter it."