KABUL  - Afghanistan's Taliban insurgents use a sophisticated media strategy to portray themselves as stronger than they are and undermine confidence in the govt, a leading think-tank says. The administration and its backers must become better at countering this propaganda if they are to defeat an insurgency "that is driving a dangerous wedge between them and the Afghan people," the International Crisis Group says in a new report. "The Taliban is not going to be defeated militarily and is impervious to outside criticism," the ICG says. "Rather, the legitimacy of its ideas and actions must be challenged more forcefully by the Afghan government and citizens." The Taliban strangled the media during their 1996-2001 grip on power, banning television. But now they publicise their messages, warnings and claims of battle successes through a website, magazines, DVDs and audiocassettes. They also use pamphlets, nationalist songs and poems and mobile telephones, says the report, Taliban Propaganda: Winning the War of Words?, released this week. "The overriding strategic narrative is a quest for legitimacy and the projection of strength," it says. "Out of power and lacking control over territory, the Taliban has proved adept at projecting itself as stronger than it is in terms of numbers and resources." Audacious tactics such as the Kandahar jailbreak in June and the April assassination attempt on President Hamid Karzai at a military parade show that grabbing attention lies at the core of operations, the report says. "Using the full range of media, it is successfully tapping into strains of Afghan nationalism and exploiting policy failures by the Kabul government and its international backers. "The result is weakening public support for nation building, even though few actively support the Taliban." Despite the increasing sophistication of some of its propaganda, contradictory messages also indicate internal rifts, the International Crisis Group says. They show difficulties in presenting a united front among various rebel groups whose leadership and support structures are across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The Taliban's relations with transnational jihadist (holy fighter) networks with a global agenda is also seen to be a potential problem, with the insurgent group benefiting tactically but divided internally about the links, it says. And their statements show them to be a difficult potential negotiating partner because they lack a coherent agenda. The ICG also points to failings in the government's strategy to win over public support, calling for a swifter and stronger media response to developments. It should also "make greater efforts to address sources of alienation exploited in Taliban propaganda, particularly by ending arbitrary detentions and curtailing civilian casualties from aerial bombing," the report says. And it needs to do more to ensure it is "worth fighting for" such as ending the impunity of its members - a reference to officials accused of crimes in Afghanistan's past 30 years of war or involvement in the drugs trade.  The international community should also examine its own actions. "Whatever the military benefits of arbitrary detentions, they are far outweighed by the alienation they cause," it says, also questioning the effectiveness of air strikes considering the civilian casualties and damage to public support they cause.