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Tuesday, 16 October, 2001, 13:46 GMT 14:46 UK
Pro-US radio launched for Afghanistan
A Commando Solo plane taxis ahead of a mission over Iraq
The US uses "Commando Solo" planes for its PsyOps radio broadcasts
A new pro-American radio station has been heard in Afghanistan, believed to be a part of the US military's "PsyOps" (for Psychological Operations) propaganda campaign in the country.

BBC Monitoring first detected the broadcast on Sunday evening on a previously unused wavelength, and the station is heard for five hours every morning and evening.

The coalition countries comprise peace-loving countries from throughout the world. Their aim is to put an end to terror

It broadcasts in Dari and Pashto - the two dominant languages in Afghanistan - and mixes announcements read in an emotionless tone with lively Afghan music.

Although the station has not formally identified itself, leaflets dropped along with food aid by US planes announced the broadcast of "Information Radio".

"Coalition Countries" radio

Announcements of humanitarian food drops and military actions consistently refer to the "coalition countries".

Don't listen to what al-Qaeda and the Taleban say

"The coalition countries comprise peace-loving countries from throughout the world. Their aim is to put an end to terror," the announcer said in a Dari broadcast.

The first broadcast, however, was addressed to "the noble people of Afghanistan" and said that "the forces of the United States are passing through your area".

"We have not come here to harm you," it said. "We have come to arrest Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda and those who support him."

Safe at home

It warned Afghans to stay away from roads and bridges, and to take shelter if they saw US troops or aircraft.

You should not forget that we do not want to harm innocent people

"The most safe place is your own homes," the announcer said. "Don't listen to what al-Qaeda and the Taleban say.

"If you follow these instructions no harm will come to you," he added. "You should not forget that we do not want to harm innocent people."

Subsequent broadcasts have spoken of the terrorist attacks in the United States, in an apparent attempt to create solidarity between Afghans and the "coalition countries".

We feel your pain

"Recently people in our country have been killed because of an act by terrorists," the radio says.

We share the feeling of loss of our dear ones

"Families have lost their loved ones. Mothers and fathers lost their daughters and sons. Children lost their mothers and fathers because of this attack.

"We know that your family have also lost their dear ones because of drought and war in the country," it says. "We share the feeling of loss of our dear ones."

The radio also emphasizes that airdropped food is coming from the coalition, and gives instructions on collecting and distributing the food.

"We are preparing the prepacked food for you in order to demonstrate that the coalition countries want to help you as friends," the broadcast says.

A sensitive issue

However, although the United States is confident of its psychological operations after reported successes during the Gulf War, the tone of the broadcasts has been questioned.

The announcements - first read in Dari, then in Pashto - met with mixed reviews from the BBC monitors listening to the broadcasts. Some said they came across as patronising and the music as insensitive.

The emotionless voices of the announcers did not appear likely to encourage the sort of solidarity that the broadcasts appeared to be aiming for, they said, and the looped recording that repeated every hour was seen as a turn off.

The lively Afghan music, although traditional, was the kind that would be heard at celebrations such as weddings - unlikely to mirror the present mood of Afghans.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

Traditional Afghan music broadcast on pro-US radio
See also:

16 Oct 01 | Americas
The US war of minds
15 Oct 01 | South Asia
UN says US 'feeding Taleban'
10 Oct 01 | UK
Clockwork warfare
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