The Taliban, who control many regions of Afghanistan, spread terror by kidnapping journalists, by suicide attacks and by the use of improvised explosive devices. The use of terror enables the Taliban to control the population, and creates virtual information blackouts in southern and eastern Afghanistan and in western Pakistan.
Although the Taliban finally released two French hostages, France 3 journalists Hervé Ghesquière and Stéphane Taponier, in June 2011 after holding them for 18 months, they are responsible for a growing number of murders of civilians and journalists.
In eastern Afghanistan, Jafar Vafa, a young journalist with radio Aleh Ghosh, was killed by an IED in November 2011. Before him, Rupert Hamer, correspondent of the British Sunday Mirror newspaper, and Michelle Lang of the Canadian Calgary Herald newspaper, were killed in similar fashion. Taliban members do not hesitate to execute journalists in broad daylight and in front of onlookers. On 17 January 2012, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan murdered Mukarram Khan Atif, a journalist for Deewa Radio, while he was at prayer in a mosque in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Despite the differences and borders between them, these criminal groups are united in their campaign – waged in the name of religion – to stamp out freedom of the press and access to information. Their presence constitutes a permanent threat to journalists. Terror marks the regions they control, where the remaining journalists practice self-censorship to survive.