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Translation: “Osama owns you”

bOINGbOING pointed me to a Wired article about a special Taliban IRC client (for the uninitiated, IRC is an Internet chat program). I couldn’t resist checking it out. Here’s a screen shot:

The article wasn’t kidding: each chat window does have a picture of John Walker Lindh (a.k.a. Abdul Hamid), with the caption “The Taliban” underneath. It’s reassuring, knowing that while I’m chatting with potential infidel dogs on the Great Satan’s Internet, I’m under Johnny’s protective gaze. I just wish they could’ve found a nicer photo of the pious lad; all of the ones I’ve seen tend to make him look like a more deranged version of the Tom Hanks character in Cast Away.

I wonder why the programmer, Mullah Abdul Qahar MuntaQim (a mere slip of a lad at the tender age of 20), chose Walker Lindh’s image to represent the Taliban. Johnny’s a relative newcomer to the club, and a convert from the Great Satan. Years of reading comic books have taught me the supervillain rule of never trusting anyone who’s just crossed over and joined your side without some issuing kind of diabolical loyalty test. Lindh is more a poster boy for laissez-faire parenting gone horribly wrong than a symbol of the Taliban. Surely there are more suitable faces than the rookie’s — couldn’t MuntaQim have gone with Mullah Omar or Osama?

(An aside: If I were Osama, I wouldn’t let Walker Lindh perform anything beyond latrine duty until he performed some kind of onerous task to prove that he’d really joined our team in body and sprit. “Osama commands you,” I’d say (supervillains always refer to themselves in the third person) “to blow up one of America’s most cherished instutions! Only after you have destroyed this ‘Taco Bell’ will I consider you a true Talib.”)

Of course, the question of whose photo should appear in the chat windows is moot. The Taliban would condemn this program. Their fundamentalist dogma forbids the depiction of people in pictures, and even if it didn’t, they’ve put a ban on the Internet anyway.

The app has a handy call-to-prayer timer. During the proscribed five times a day Muslims are supposed to pray, it plays an MP3 of the appropriate song calling the faithful. It also comes with a handy set of cut-and-paste quotes you can use while debating with infidels in the chat channels.

I’ve been using the program Ethereal to see if this application is sending covert messages. SO far, it’s done nothing that the mIRC chat client it’s based on doesn’t do. My virus scanning programs report no suspicious activity. There aren’t even any annoying pop-up ads (I can see it now: “Party at Osama’s place. We’ll be using X10 cameras to stare at hot chicks’ ankles. Attendees are kindly reminded to set their shoe bomb detonators to Daylight Savings Time — we don’t want last week’s incident repeated.”)

The two things I like most about the app are in the “About…” windows:

1. This little slogan: “The Taliban, the most friendly people in the world, possibly the universe”. Most friendly…in the Universe? What kind of people does MuntaQim deal with on a day-to-day basis? Sociopaths? Hired killers? Verisign executives?

2. This tech support notice: “If you have any problem with this program, any Suggestion, any thing you want to Share Just email me and I will answer to you as soon as I can (InshaAllah)”. InshaAllah means “God willing”. If only all tech support messages were that truthful.

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