NGO war-mongers

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.

 

INTERVIEW WITH EVA KARENE BARTLETT: ‘Syrian people realize that the war on Syria is not about Assad’

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Mar 31, 2017, Global CIR, (translated version)

We had the honor to interview Eva Karene Bartlett. She is well known independent writer and rights activist with extensive experience in Syria and in the Gaza Strip, where she lived a cumulative three years (from late 2008 to early 2013). She documented the 2008/9 and 2012 Israeli war crimes and attacks on Gaza while riding in ambulances and reporting from hospitals.

Since April 2014, she has visited Syria 6 times, including two months in summer 2016 and once month in Oct/Nov 2016. Her early visits included interviewing residents of the Old City of Homs, which had just been secured from militants, and visiting historic Maaloula after the Aramaic village had been liberated of militants. In December 2015, Eva returned to old Homs to find life returning, small shops opened, some of the damaged historic churches holding worship anew, and citizens preparing to celebrate Christmas once again.

On her 5th visit in June-August 2016, she went twice to Aleppo, also visiting Palmyra, Masyaf, Jableh, Tartous, and Barzeh district of Damascus, as well as returning again to Maaloula and Latakia. On her sixth visit to Syria, in October and November, she visited Aleppo twice more, as well as areas around Damascus. The testimonies Eva gathered in Aleppo starkly contrasted narratives corporate media had been asserting. Many of her published Syria writings, videos, photos can be found at this link.

10 2

Tear-gassed after de-arresting resident of Bil’in village, occupied Palestine, August 2007

GLOBAL CIR: You come from Canada, a country which is in relation to the US a symbol peacefulness and regulated country. What was the decisive influence for you to begin with the social activism and independent journalism in the most turbulent and bloodiest part of the world,  the Middle East?

-Actually, while Canada is portrayed as a benevolent and peaceful country, not many people realize the extent to which Canada has: supported the Zionists’ ethnic cleansing of Palestinians while also turning a blind eye to the murder of Palestinians; taken part in the NATO alliance war on Syria; sold weapons to the despotic Saudi regime (latest deal: US$11 billion), including anti-tank cannons and combat vehicles with machine guns; and ethnically-cleansed and slaughtered the indigenous people.

With regard to Canada’s role in the war on Syria, it includes imposing criminal and crippling sanctions on Syria; supporting and funding (millions of dollars) the so-called armed ‘opposition’ in Syria and their propagandists; closing Syrian embassies in Canada; demonizing the legitimate Syrian government and Syrian army; and legitimizing the illegitimate, Saudi-backed, so-called ‘Syrian National Council’.

Growing up in Canada, I was completely ignorant to world politics. In my late twenties I started to become aware of some of the most basic continuing atrocities, like the Zionist colonization of Palestine, and was moved to learn more first-hand. I did so as a solidarity activist and volunteer in occupied Palestine, seeing over a period of six years some of the worst crimes by Zionist soldiers and colonists against Palestinian civilians, including children.

When the criminal war on Syria physically began in early 2011, I was equally ignorant about that country, and was at that time living in the Gaza Strip. However, very quickly I became suspicious of what corporate media was alleging was happening in Syria, and began researching via independent sources, ultimately going to the country to see for myself.

I used to think that Palestine was one of the most difficult issues to talk about, with so much media distortion and whitewashing in the favour of Israel. However, I now believe that getting the truth out on Syria is one of the most difficult things to do, as nearly all in the Western world, as well as the Gulf states and all corporate media, have conspired to lie about events in Syria and about the will of the Syrian people.

Canadian state and corporate media is as guilty of war propaganda as American, British, and Gulf media. Canada’s politicians and corporate media have Syrian blood on their hands.
CONTINUE READING

Interview on Apophenia: “A Talk with Eva Bartlett” [Part 1]

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Al-Dabeet Maternity Hospital as of July 2016. The hospital was internally gutted in a May 2016 terrorist attack which saw an explosive land immediately outside, exploding vehicles parked nearby. Three women were killed in the attack; little media attention was given.

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Apophenia: A Talk with Eva Bartlett Part 1 

Related Links:

Western corporate media ‘disappears’ over 1.5 million Syrians and 4,000 doctors:Doctors In Aleppo Refute Media Lies, SOTT.net, Aug 14, 2016, Eva Bartlett
POST CONTINUES

UN covers up war crimes in Syria, citing U.S. backed Al-Qaeda propagandists

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Oct 29, 2016, The Duran

Once again, unnamed sources and al-Qaeda in White Helmets are claiming that either the Syrian or Russian air force are responsible for deaths of civilians, this time an alleged 22 children in Idlib province.

Once again, American claims need no actual proof and defy damning satellite imagery contradicting the accusations.

Once again, the hypocrisy not only of American exceptionalism but also of the United Nations is staggering.

Regarding unsubstantiated accusations of an attack on what Western and White Helmets spokespeople are claiming was an airstrike on a school complex in Hass, Idlib, on October 26, UNICEF cried “war crimes”. With supreme audacity, UNICEF  Executive Director Anthony Lake further claimed that this “airstrike” may be “the deadliest attack on a school since the war began more than five years ago.”

Perhaps Lake was otherwise distracted when on October 1, 2014, terrorists car and suicide bombed the Akrama Al-Makhzoumi School in Homs, killing at least 41 children by conservative estimates, or up to 48 children by other reports, along with women and other civilians.

Even when different phoneticisations of the Arabic name are searched, no similar statement of condemnation and anguish for the children murdered at the Akrama school bombings can be found on UNICEF’s website, even prior to Lake.

Nor can any mention be found of documented recent terrorist shelling attacks on schools in greater, government-secured Aleppo.

Nor can any mention be found of the terrorist shelling of That al-Nitaqain elementary school in Dara’a on October 11, which in early reports had killed at least 5 students and critically-injured others.

Western-backed terrorists have a history of attacking schools throughout Syria; the lives of these students seemingly don’t matter to the UN body purporting to be concerned for  the lives of children around the world.

In actual fact, the UN is covering up the war crimes of terrorists the West backs.

Absurdities of West’s Latest Claims

Western officials and slavish media are reporting “almost two dozen children” killed in an “airstrike” on the Idlib schools, relying on the usual sources completely lacking in credibility: the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, run by Rami Abdul Rahman in his UK shop-office; unnamed activists; and the so-called White Helmets, funded to the tune of up to US$ 100 million by Western governments and operating solely in al-Nusra areas of Syria, and frequently seen holding guns themselves, as well as standing on the dead bodies of Syrian soldiers.

Aside from the issue of these dodgy sources, the claims themselves of Russian or Syrian airstrikes have very easily and quickly been debunked not only by the Russian Ministry of Defence with its satellite imagery of the area, but also by the exercise of common sense based on the photos presented as “evidence” by said dubious sources.

Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov in a statement said:

“As can be seen from the photos taken by the drone, there are no signs of damage to the roof of the school, or craters from airstrikes around it.

We have analysed the photo and video ‘evidence’ of the supposed attack. The video published in a range of Western media outlets appears to consist of more than 10 different shots, filmed at different times of the day, and in different resolutions that were edited into a single clip.

The photograph published by AFP shows that only one wall of the school is damaged, and all the desks inside the classroom are in place. The outer fence seen through the hole has no traces of damage from bomb fragments. In a genuine airstrike this is physically impossible – the furniture would have been swept away by the blast wave, and there would have been damage marks on the classroom wall and the outer fence.”

READ FULL ARTICLE AT THE DURAN

Life under fire in Syria: SOTT.net interview with Eva Bartlett

Sep 2, 2016, SOTT.net

 

 

“Since 2008, Eva has spent more than 3 years in Gaza documenting Palestinian life under Israeli rule. She has also visited Lebanon and, since 2014, has just come back from her 5th trip to Syria, the latter for 9 weeks, to bring back firsthand accounts of what daily life is like for the Syrian people who have been subjected to a Western imperial war for the past over 5 years.”

Some Related Links:

DARA’A/EARLY DAYS:
 
Syria: how the violence began, in Daraa, May 13, 2013, OpEd News
 
Syria: The hidden massacre, May 7, 2014, Russia Today Op Edge
 
Deconstructing the NATO Narrative on Syria, Oct 10, 2015, Dissident Voice (other languages at this link)
 
ALEPPO:
 
Western corporate media ‘disappears’ over 1.5 million Syrians and 4,000 doctors, Aug 14, 2016, SOTT.net
 

The Omran Deception, Aug 31, 2016, TeleSur
POST CONTINUES

Please Support My Syrian Voices Book Project


*photo: Resilience of Syrians, Old City of Homs, December 2015.

As many readers will know, I have visited Syria four times, between April 2014 and December 2015—independently on a journalist’s visa and as part of two peace delegations. When in Syria as a writer, I visited key places—including liberated Homs and Ma’loula, terror-bombed regions of Homs, and the Yarmouk district, which has been focus of slick propaganda by anti-Syria corporate media and so-called human rights groups—and have conducted numerous interviews, with Syrian political and religious leaders, as well as Syrian civilians.

I have taken many photographs and videos, collected numerous personal testimonies, undertaken my own research and investigations, visited hospitals and refugee centres, and—in every area that I visited—have conversed with Syrians about what they feel is the cause of the problems in Syria, the solution, and on their insistence for Syria’s sovereignty, and on their support for the Syrian Arab Army and their president.

In the months since my last trip, I have been transcribing interviews and testimonies and writing articles based on them, writing about my personal impressions based on my visits to Syria, and challenging the latest corporate media lies and propaganda campaigns.

I will be returning to Syria, as soon as possible, and for that I must ask for financial assistance to make this trip possible. [see:  Syrian Voices Book Project on GoFundMe ]

Why am I compelled to go to Syria?

In order to write a book that prioritizes Syrian voices from Syria: truths from some of the most highly-misrepresented, lied about or plainly ignored areas of Syria.

To do justice to the full spectrum of the stories of Syrians as told by them, it is essential that I visit areas I not previously been to, areas that have been liberated since I was last there and areas that are enduring especially egregious suffering—such as in Aleppo under terrorist bombs.

CONTINUE READING

Aleppo Reverend’s Plea to the World To Stop Terrorists’ Attacks, Support Syrian Army [ENGLISH]

Reverend Ibrahim Nasir is the spiritual leader of the Arabic Evangelical (Presbyterian) Church in Aleppo [listen also to his July 2014 speech]

Highlights from Rev. Nasir’s message (directed at President Obama):

“Is this your standards of humanity? To see people are killed in the city of Aleppo, to see babies are killed in the wombs of their mothers.

…The people of Aleppo are (being) killed now, by the gangs and the weapons of the west. These weapons are used by Saudi Arabia and by Qatar and by Turkey to kill the people who believe in God, who believe in his country, who believe in the value of humanity.

…Support our legal military, who are trying to defend humanity now–they are not defending only Syria, they are defending the values of humanity all around the world.”

 
CONTINUE READING