Exploitation of Bana al-Abed: Parents use child to whitewash terrorists in Aleppo

July 24, 2017, RT.com

-By Eva Bartlett

The exploitation of children in the propaganda war against Syria has become routine. However, the exploitation by the parents themselves is a new low of depravity. Such is the case of Aleppo child, Bana al-Abed, and the exploitation by her parents.

Until and even after the liberation of Aleppo in December 2016, one of the most popular Aleppo Twitter accounts, offering pleas for Western intervention in Syria, was that of then seven-year-old Bana al-Abed, living in eastern Aleppo’s al-Muasalat al-Qadima neighborhood of Jouret Awwad, Sha’ar.

As with the exploitation of Omran Daqneesh, the Bana narrative features an endearing child who causes otherwise rationally-thinking people to uncritically-accept transparent war propaganda rhetoric.

The Bana Twitter account began in late September 2016, with calls early on for action against the Syrian president, and Russia, and with a glaring absence of information or mention of the terrorist factions occupying eastern areas of Aleppo. In one notable early tweet, although only a cached version of the tweet exists, the Bana account tweeted:

“Dear world, it’s better to start 3rd world war instead of letting Russia & Assad commit #HolocaustAleppo

On December 13, a ceasefire agreement was reached and an evacuation deal agreed upon which would see the expulsion and transfer of the different terrorist factions and their families from the eastern quarters of Aleppo, with the option to remain in the government-secured city. That day, Bana was among the many seemingly-choreographed “last message” from Aleppo posters, tweeting:

“I am talking to the world now live from east #Aleppo. This is my last moment to either live or die.”

In spite of the Bana account’s fear mongering, the girl and family were safely evacuated to Idlib, as promised and honored by the Syrian government. Bana and family went on from Idlib to Turkey, becoming citizens in mid-May.

The child’s account, which now has 369,000 followers, continues to vilify the Syrian and Russian governments and hobnobs with world leaders and global celebrities. Time magazine lauded Bana as among the most 25 influential people on the internet. On June 30, the Bana account tweeted the announcement of her memoirs, published by Simon & Schuster.

This is an eight-year-old with a truly unbelievable story. And in fact, this is an eight-year-old who has been exploited by her parents for war propaganda.

After much online criticism regarding the implausibility that a child whose reply to a question about what food she liked was “Save the children of Syria” could be tweeting nuanced, idiomatic, English phrases, often with perfect punctuation, Bana’s mother Fatema admitted to penning some of the tweets.

Although in late December Fatema promised that only Bana would be tweeting after that, it defies credibility that a child who could scarcely string together a sentence later tweeted this:

“My letter to @realdonaldtrump: I beg you, can you do something for the children of Syria? If you can, I will be your best friend. Thank you”

The BBC uncritically published the entire letter, never doubting the veracity of a letter said to be penned by an English-illiterate then-7-year-old, a letter which also included near-perfect mastery of idiomatic expressions and more subtle calls for Western intervention.

Critics noting that the Bana Twitter account smacked of war propaganda, also surmised that Bana’s father, Ghassan might have ties to, or indeed be a member of, terrorist groups then in eastern Aleppo. One such tweet read:

“Hey @AlabedBana can you ask your dad why he’s friends with jihadists from Jabhat Nusra and Ahrar Sham?”

Indeed, it turns out there is far more to the Bana story, and her family’s criminal activities with terrorists than observers had surmised.

Filming Bana meters from Al-Qaeda headquarters

In June 2017, in Aleppo, I met with Syrian journalist Khaled Iskef to discuss his investigations into the propaganda around Omran Daqneesh. Recently, I spoke with Iskef anew after he published part one and part two of a video series looking into the exploitation of Bana al-Abed, as well as investigating the family itself and their whitewashing of Al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorists in Syria, who they were living next to and indeed undoubtedly cooperating with.

For his research, Iskef did more than look at the social media accounts of the family. He went to their home, which happened to be just meters around the corner from an al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda) headquarters, and less than 400 meters down the street from the main Al-Qaeda headquarters in Aleppo.

Western media portrayed Ghassan al-Abed as the civilian he claimed to be; an “Independent lawyer, Activist against terrorism and ISIS,” reads his Twitter bio. Had the media dug even a little bit deeply, they would have found all of these claims to be false.

The self-professed “investigative” website known as Bellingcat (dubbed on twitter as #Bellingcrap for the disinformation it propagates) in December 2016 falsely asserted:

“…claims that Ghassan Alabed probably works for a Shariah court are totally without basis in evidence.”

Khaled Iskef revealed the contrary. In the al-Abed home, Iskef found a notebook documenting Ghassan’s work with terrorists over the years. According to the notebook (and coinciding with photos formerly on his social media pages) Ghassan Al-Abed was a military trainer for the Islamic Sawfa Brigade, and worked in the Shariah Council in the occupied state Eye Hospital, under the control of ISIS for a time until 2014, and al-Nusra for all of the time that al-Abed was there. The Shariah Council which al-Abed worked with passed decisions on imprisonment and assassination of the captured civilians being tried.

According to residents of the district, Iskef reports, Ghassan’s father, Mohammed al-Abed, was a known arms dealer and had a weapons maintenance shop in Sha’ar, servicing light to heavy weapons for terrorist factions. The al-Abed weapons shop was opposite a school-turned-headquarters for al-Nusra.

Although Ghassan and family have deleted self-incriminating photos from the various social media accounts, Iskef saved a number from their various accounts. In one, Ghassan sits outside the family gun shop holding a gun, along with four other armed men, including his brothers.

Iskef’s on the ground documentation has already received a poor attempt at “debunking” by an author who goes by an Arabic pseudonym, slings the decades-old CIA conspiracy theorist accusation meant to discredit, attempts to whitewash the presence of al-Nusra literally around the corner from the al-Abed house and links to a map which even the UN body that produced it states “is a preliminary analysis and has not yet been validated in the field.”

The author either does not understand Arabic or perhaps missed the point in Iskef’s first video wherein he reads from Ghassan al-Abed’s notebook which states that Ghassan was working in the Shariah Council in the Eye Hospital from early 2013, before reports of ISIS being pushed out of Aleppo in 2014.

For those who followed the Bana Twitter account, a constant theme was that she missed going to school. What wasn’t mentioned was that terrorists, including al-Nusra, were using schools as headquarters, along with other buildings in the district, amounting to at least twenty headquarters in Bana’s area, and over 300 in eastern Aleppo, according to Iskef.

In an interview, investigative journalist Vanessa Beeley explained that Ghassan al-Abed was the Director of the ‘Civil Registry of the east Aleppo Council,’ run by Abdul Aziz Maghrabi, who was with the Tawhid Brigades in 2012 when they invaded eastern Aleppo. He then became not only an al-Nusra Front leader but also the originator of the White Helmets organization in east Aleppo.” At the same time.

The east Aleppo Council was receiving payments from the UK government, via “organizations like Adam Smith International and Integrity Consulting,” Beeley said. “Payments directly, effectively, to Nusra Front, to distribute among the extremist factions in east Aleppo.”

A short walk down the lane and around the corner from the al-Abed home, Iskef entered one a former al-Nusra headquarters, somehow not included in the Bana account tweets. The lower level of the building comprised an improvised prison and was littered with terrorist banners, food aid packaging from countries hostile to Syria, and a notebook listing the names and weapons of al-Nusra fighters in that area.

In his second video report, Iskef shows a photo which Bellingcat also shared in their December report. What Bellingcat didn’t bother to research was that in the picture Bana stood within meters of the most important al-Qaeda headquarters in Aleppo.

The building behind Bana, Iskef reports, was a school, also turned-terrorist headquarters. Immediately across from where Bana stood were three further terrorist headquarters, of Ansar al-Sham, the Muhajireen Brigade, and al-Nusra.

The photo shared by Bellingcat was taken from a video in which Bana delivered an emotional message: “I’m sad, it’s so bad.” Iskef remarked. “She stood here and delivered the message…without showing the military headquarters surrounding her.”

The former main headquarters of al-Nusra for Aleppo and countryside was just a camera swivel (and some meters) away.

When he entered the building some months prior, Iskef reports that he found letters from Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (head of ISIS) and Abu Mohammad al-Julani (head of the Nusra Front), dated May 22, 2013.

Discussing with Iskef the improbability of the Bana family, as ‘civilians’ filming next to such an Al-Qaeda headquarters, he told me: “When I asked civilians whether anyone could take photos/videos there—because it was a (Nusra) military area—all said, no it’s impossible, you couldn’t take any photos/videos near an Al-Qaeda location. So how did they (Bana’s handlers) take a video around meters away?”

The logical conclusion, thus, is that the family of Bana had permission from, ties to, Al-Qaeda, and filming directly next to their headquarters was not only not an issue, but a part of the war propaganda the account was initiated for.

In an October 2016 Danish TV 2 channel interview with Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, the journalist raised the issue of Bana, asking “Do you trust her as an eyewitness?”

President Assad replied: “You cannot build your political position or stand, let’s say, according to a video promoted by the terrorists or their supporters. It’s a game now, a game of propaganda, it’s a game of media….Our mission as a government is to deal with the reality. You have terrorists in Syria, they are supported by foreign powers and foreign countries, and we have to defend our country.”

As it turned out, Assad was correct: narratives like that of the Bana al-Abed account are sad games of propaganda. The losers are the victims themselves like Bana, and the Syrian people being abused, and killed, by Western-backed war propaganda.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

 

Stephen Gowans: “The Myth of the Kurdish YPG’s Moral Excellence”

Informative article, and recent interview on the subject. Phil Taylor interviews Stephen Gowans on the Taylor Report: https://soundcloud.com/taylor-report/the-myth-of-the-kurdish-ypgs-moral-excellence

what's left

July 11, 2017

By Stephen Gowans

A barbed criticism aimed at the International Socialist Organization, shown nearby, under the heading “If the ISO Existed in 1865” encompasses a truth about the orientation of large parts of the Western Left to the Arab nationalist government in Damascus. The truth revealed in the graphic is that the ISO and its cognates will leave no stone unturned in their search for an indigenous Syrian force to support that has taken up arms against Damascus, even to the point of insisting that a group worthy of support must surely exist, even if it can’t be identified.

If the ISO existed in 1865. Of course, Washington lends a hand, helpfully denominating its proxies in the most laudatory terms. Islamist insurgents in Syria, mainly Al Qaeda, were not too many years ago celebrated as a pro-democracy movement, and when that deception proved no longer tenable, as…

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Exploitation of children in propaganda war against Syria continues

Still image from a video being filmed in Egypt, purporting to be in Aleppo, Syria.

Jun 19, 2017, RT Op-Edge

-By Eva Bartlett

In December 2016, filmmakers in Egypt were arrested in the process of staging an Aleppo video with two children: the girl was meant to look injured, and the boy was to vilify both Russia and Syria.

Even the corporate media reported on it, including: “The girl’s dress, covered in red paint, was what caught the attention of a police officer driving by, the ministry said.”

The incidences of fakery and hoaxes, however, does not end there.

Also in December, the scene of a ‘Girl running to survive after her family had been killed’ was said to be in Aleppo. In reality, it was a scene from a Lebanese music video, which someone at some point clearly chose to depict as in Aleppo, for the same anti-Russian, anti-Assad vilification purposes.

In November 2014, a clip dubbed ‘Syrian hero boy’ went viral, viewed over 5 million times already by mid-November. The clip showed what appeared to be a little boy saving his sister from sniper gunfire, and was assumed to have been in Syria.

 

The Telegraph’s Josie Ensor didn’t wait for any sort of verification of the video which she cited as having been uploaded on November 10, the next day writing: “…it is thought the incident took place in Yabroud – a town near the Lebanese border which was the last stronghold of the moderate Free Syrian Army. Experts tell the paper they have no reason to doubt its authenticity. The UN has previously accused the Syrian regime of ‘crimes against humanity’ – including the use of snipers against small children.”

On November 14, the BBC brought on ‘Middle East specialist’ Amira Galal to give her expert opinion on the clip. She asserted: “We can definitely say that it is Syria, and we can definitely say that it’s probably on the regime frontlines. We see in the footage that there is a barrel, it’s painted on it the Syrian army flag.”

Once again, the so-called ‘experts’ got it wrong. The barrel which Galal referred to had a poor imitation of the flag of Syria painted on it, the flag’s color sequence out of order. The clip she was so certain had been filmed in government areas of Syria was actually produced in Malta by Norwegian filmmakers.
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Meet Aylan & Omran: Child victims used for Syrian war propaganda

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© AFP / Global Look Press

June 12, 2017, RT Op-Edge

-Eva Bartlett

In September 2015, a young boy was found washed up on a beach in Turkey. Photos of Aylan Kurdi’s lifeless body were quickly splashed across mass media, much the same way that Omran Daqneesh’s photo inside an ambulance would also be disseminated.
Accusations of responsibility were hurled at the Syrian government, and leaders from Western nations upped their rhetoric about the need for intervention. Meanwhile, the corporate media and Western leaders continued their silence on the murders, decapitations, kidnappings, and actual starvation of children and adults alike in Syria by the armed mercenaries and zealots the West calls “moderates”.

In February 2017, Tima Kurdi, Aylan’s aunt got in touch with US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, and then spoke publicly, saying she supports Gabbards “message to stop arming terrorists, to stop supporting regime change. If the West keeps funding the rebels, we will see more people flee, more bloodshed, and more suffering. My people have suffered for at least six years. This is not about supporting Bashar. This is about ending the war in Syria.”

Boy in the ambulance story: Then and now

The official story of Omran Daqneesh bothered me from the moment that Western media, in-chorus on August 18, 2016, splashed the same award-winning photo across their pages, televisions and websites, while citing Russian and Syrian guilt in an alleged strike on the Daqneesh family home the night prior.
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The Father Of Iconic Aleppo Boy Says Media Lied About His Son

19022348_10155554719009059_87946180_oMohammad Daqneesh displays a photo of his 11-year-old son, Mohammad Ali, who died due to injuries sustained the same day that Omran, known as the Aleppo boy, was mildly wounded, a fact the much of the media missed. Aleppo, Syria, June 6, 2017 (Photo: Danny Makki/MintPress News)
 

MintPress sat down with the father of the now-infamous Aleppo boy, Omran Daqneesh. Omran’s father, Mohammad Daqneesh, says his son was exploited by Syrian rebels and the media for political gain.

 
 

HOMS, SYRIA — On the evening of Aug. 17, 2016, an event that has yet to be adequately explained occurred in the Qaterji District of the Syrian city of Aleppo. Four-year-old Omran Daqneesh, as well as his siblings and parents, were injured in media alleged was an attack by the Russians – or the Syrian military, depending on what source one chose to believe. People in Aleppo suggested it could have been a strike by the US-led coalition. The reality is not yet known. The attack also claimed the life of Omran’s 11-year-old brother, Mohammad Ali Daqneesh.

Overnight, the world was introduced to Omran, who became the poster child of suffering in Syria due to extensive coverage by Western corporate media. The al-Qaeda-affiliated White Helmets, and subsequently the media, made the child’s injuries out to seem far more serious than they actually were.

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Russia’s Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ask Why Still No UN Investigation Into Chemical Allegations In Syria

May 25, 2017, by The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation:

“On May 23, the UNSC held its successive discussion on the state of affairs around the so-called Syrian “chemical dossier”. The Western “troika” of permanent members of the UN Security Council sought to give an anti-Assad and anti‑Russian pronounced spin to this event. It was reconfirmed that these “exposers” of Damascus were not interested in establishing the truth in a crucial issue of who actually stood behind the alleged use of sarin on April 4, 2017, in the Syrian province of Idlib. Representatives of the United States, Great Britain and France have desperately resisted any attempt to figure out to what extent their verdict delivered “in absentia” about the allegedly undeniable responsibility of the Bashar Al-Assad Government for this chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun was justified.

An unsightly scene has been developed. It seems that almost two months after the chemical incident nobody has been in a hurry to visit Khan Sheikhoun in order to examine all the circumstances of such a high-impact case. Moreover, the Westerners have ruled out even the very option of visiting the Shayirat airbase where, according to their own allegations, the sarin used in Khan Sheikhoun was stored.

Unfortunately, no activity has been undertaken in this regard by the OPCW Fact‑Finding Mission (FFM) that proceeds with postponing its visit to Khan Sheikhoun blaming unfavorable security conditions. As for the leadership of the OPCW – UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), it is yet to develop a plan of investigatory actions indicating sites to visit, individuals to question and documents to claim.
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