Oops. Big time. Someone in the Taliban accidentally sent out the organization’s regular email newsletter using the carbon copy (CC) function instead of the blind carbon copy (BCC) function on the email. The result is a forwarded email that also reveals the names and email addresses of everyone else on the list. ABC News reports that the email was sent by Taliban spokesperson Qari Yousuf Ahmedi, who is also very active on Twitter. It was a press release that came from another Taliban spokesperson — Zabihullah Mujahid.
For those who don’t know, the BCC function on email is slightly different than the CC feature. Both features send out mass emails to everyone on a set list, but the BCC feature prevents recipients from seeing the names and email addresses of the other people on the list, while the CC feature discloses the names and addresses of all the recipients to everyone on the list.
For those interested enough in the Taliban to receive their regular newsletters, the disclosure of their names and email addresses certainly can’t be a good thing. One of those on the list is Mustafa Kazemi, a well-known journalist who has over 9,500 Twitter followers. He says the email revealed all four of his addresses, and he now fears for his safety.
There were more than 400 names on the leaked email distribution list. According to ABC News, it is made up mostly of journalists, although there are also email addresses that appear to belong to high profile officials in the Middle East, including one provincial governor, a lawmaker in Afghanistan, several leaders in academia, activists and even someone who seems to represent a warlord whose group is believed to have been involved in multiple attacks on coalition troops.
Most of the time the press releases sent to the email list are emailed with the intent of claiming to be responsible for attacks on coalition or Afghan troops. The releases are often written with exaggerated numbers of casualties and used for public relations purposes.