After I and others wrote about Mahmoud Halyaf who, having been born without arms, lost his legs to a terrorist mine, I was approached by someone from the Global Media Department of a US university department, who wanted to be put in touch with the family – perhaps they could help him. I spoke to his doctor, Nabil Antaki, who was, however, very reluctant for the boy to be exploited.
Dr Antaki’s attitude stands in sharp contrast to the corporate media, and to regime-change seeking NGOs such as Amnesty, who see children first and foremost as objects to be used and manipulated. A primary example is Omran Daqneesh, the boy on the orange chair, who was coldbloodedly chosen to be the face of a media campaign highlighting the trauma of war on children solely because he was little, chubby and cute, not because he had actually suffered any trauma. Fortunately for Omran his fame is still largely confined to that one photoshoot.
The most determined and potentially most psychologically damaging campaign is the one to turn Bana of Aleppo into a star. Bana, the little girl supposedly tweeting from Aleppo, but actually the front for an account run from London, was selected to be the empathetic face of the campaign for a no-fly zone in Syria. Her account was tailored to create the impression of perpetual bombing, perpetual war crimes, on the part of Russia and the Syrian government.
From the outset, the evidence that the project was controlled from far away, and not by Bana or her mother, was overwhelming. The controllers clearly thought they were creating a slick commercial, and it shows:
- a subject chosen and groomed for maximum cuteness (the signature pink bow, just old enough to tweet), while old enough to type on a keyboard;
- the carefully chosen first tweet – I need peace;
- videos uploaded from the first day of operation;
- the immediate purchase of huge numbers of fake followers;
Practically all the people seven-year old Bana chose to follow, apart from a handful of world leaders, were representatives of the mainstream media and/or anti-Syrian activists.
Apart from the undisguised sophistication of the operation, there were other glaring discrepancies. The tweets were first supposed to be Bana’s own, but the videos showed that Bana did not know a word of English when the project started. The eventual explanation that she was actually a front for her terrorist-supporting family (that would be all right, apparently) still did not wash. The tweeter was clearly a native English speaker, while interviews with her mother Fatemah (real name Maram) revealed that she certainly was not. The claimed support for Manchester United was ludicrous.
Developments in the Bana account and more information further exposed the Bana Project.
Bana’s terrorist family
More is now known about the Alabed’s connections with the terrorist groups in Aleppo were exposed. Ghassan Alabed is one of the leading lights of Kataib Safwa al Islamiya, part of the Jaish el Mujahadin alliance. The picture below is from Ghassan’s instagram account (gacm855, via @Nasteva); more representations of Ghassan as fighter here.
The Alabeds have ties with ISIS-aligned al Zinki group, responsible for the murder of 12 year old Abdullah Issa. (Like Ghassan Alabed’s Safwa al Islamiyah, al Zinki was part of the Jaish al Mujahadin until May 2014.) In the picture below, the man with Bana is Amma Jaber, also seen to the right posing with Mahmoud Raslan, Omran photographer, who (top left) takes a selfie with the al Zinki gang, who beheaded Abdullah Issa (top right). Amma Jaber appears to work for al Nusra’s Aleppo Media Centre – his tweets (@ammarjaber8) shows him presenting videos and posing with terrorist photographer Hadi.
Bill Purkayastha drew this cartoon juxtapositioning Bana and Abdullah Issa before her relationship with terrorist gangs like al Zinki had become clear.
Bana posed with a string of terrorists and terrorist supporters, including photographer Hadi al Abdullah
The mysterious internet connection
Aleppo, as in other parts of Syria, has experienced breaks in internet availability. There is no evidence from Bana’s postings of any inconvenience, however, as the account has continued to post even when apparently without a roof over her head. Any criticism has evoked a querulous response from Fatemah. The unprompted reference to internet here can be seen as a response to sceptical remarks received earlier by the account:
On 3 November Dr Nabil Antaki posted on twitter and facebook that internet had just been restored after a week in Aleppo. Bana, however, tweeted throughout that period, for example:
The fake playground
CNN reports that before arriving in Turkey, Bana’s little brother Nour had never been to a playground, as the war is at least two years older than he is, and throughout the conflict Fatemah had sheltered her children at home. Bana tweeted a picture of herself and her other brother in a playground supposedly in Aleppo before the war. However there are two problems with the tweet. First of all, Bana looks exactly the same age as in her current photographs, and secondly it appear that there is no such playground in Aleppo. Maytham al Ashkar, who knows Aleppo well, has pointed out that there is in fact a playground like this in Gaziantep, Turkey, which is a major hub for terrorists of all colours and obscure NGOs claiming an interest in saving Syria.
Maytham’s offer of rescue.
Maytham al Ashkar, genuinely concerned about Bana’s welfare as fighting intensified and Aleppo’s liberation drew near, offered to help the family escape from Aleppo. After negotiating with the Syrian authorities, he entered on a twitter exchange with the Bana account in Arabic, but the replies came in English, and he came to the conclusion that the account was not run by Bana’s mother, who is well educated in Arabic, but someone who did not know Arabic at all. Ultimately the offer of help was refused (the incident is described in full here).
Maytham’s conclusion was that the account is the ultimate propaganda stunt.
‘There is no such a thing as Bana’s tweets. The girl is just a face, a tool used by the British intelligence, and I am saying British, because of the strong relationship between the Bana’s account and the White Helmets, who are funded and sponsored by the UK.’
Bana’s premature death
The account stalwartly ignored all the ridicule for three months, blocking all critics, until there was one blunder too many – Bana was killed off prematurely.
Clearly a few wires were crossed in London, as there was a speedy correction.
Presumably the conversation back at MI6 went something like this (via Heba@HKX07)
Fatema: I JUST SAW @AlabedBana. She’s dead.
Acct admin: You weren’t meant to kill her off yet.
Fatema: Shit. *Deletes tweet* BANA IS ALIVE
Another disaster followed in February 2017, when handlers forgot an important detail of Bana’s family, and also used an old photograph (tweet from @NinaByzantina)
Bana is known to have two brothers, Nour and Mohammed, and no sisters, and the suggestion that Bana would refer to a strange girl as ‘my younger sister’ is most unconvincing. Furthermore, the photograph is from April 2015 at the latest.
After Bana’s premature death the account was promptly closed and then accounts reopened both for Bana and a separate one for Fatemah – from now on Bana’s tweets were to be all her own. Following the second accident, both accounts were closed down to regroup, with offending tweets deleted, and then reactivated a few days later.
Despite all the evidence provided by first Bana’s embarrassing demise and resurrection and then the latest accident, as well as her close ties with extremists, the Western media continue to treat her as legitimate news. Neither Bana’s family nor her handlers are prepared to give up their cash cow, and the corporate media have no interest in exposing them.
‘Escape from Aleppo’
Soon after the Bana account was restarted following her death and resurrection in December, Bana managed to escape to Ankara, in rather obscure circumstances. The implication is that she traveled on a green bus to Rashin, with other jihadist families.
and interviewed by Hadi:
— Iran Arab Spring (@IranArabSpring) December 19, 2016
A report from Fatemah tells a slightly different story. According to Fatemah’s description of events in Human Wire, they left their house the day that it was was bombed and she herself sustained significant injuries. The next the family made their way to Sheikh Sa’eed, another part of Aleppo city, from where they travelled by bus to Turkey.
Bana the Star
Bana’s official arrival in Turkey was the start of a new life in something like the Hollywood star programme. The day after she is supposed to have left Syria Bana and her family were in Ankara being given a special welcome by Erdogan and the Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu – Fatemah having miraculously recovered from her ‘significant injuries’.
Another photo opportunity for Bana was created when American actress Lindsay Lohan visited Turkey and met with both Bana and Erdogan:
All famous people are Bana’s friends, apparently.
UN officers are equally keen to play along. Justin Forsyth, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF also met with Bana, and pretended to have a conversation with her, even though it was obvious that she could not understand a word. (See video in the Telegraph’s report).
On March 6 it was the turn of Nobel Peace Prize Winner Tawakkol Karman.
Still no let up for Bana – on 8 March she was forced to appear on a Women and War panel in Istanbul organised by the Turkish Writers Union to mark International Women’s Day: note that the Union’s article on the event (para. 3) gives special emphasis to the name Alabed, over that of other speakers. An appearance on the panel would be unsuitable for any seven-year old, but Bana’s first language is Arabic – it can hardly have been anything other than excruciatingly boring.
— Vivienne (@KitchandBot) March 10, 2017
Earlier, in January Bana was interviewed in Istanbul for TRT, in English, again with much help from Mom.
Bana’s ignorance of the English language was painfully obvious; again this has been ignored by the mainstream media, though it certainly did not escape dedicated Bana watchers on social media:
— Navstéva يزور 🐐 (@Navsteva) February 8, 2017
(picture by @Navsteva)
Bana the Peace Preacher
Although much of the focus of the Bana Project now is promoting Bana per se, and on creating the assumption that she is already a star, Bana is not resting on her laurels. In Turkey Bana and Fatemah have begun new lives as peace campaigners.
Assad and Putin are still in her sights:
Bana continues to beg the world to save the children of Syria, but with a special focus now, targeting the controversial new president of the United States. In late January she wrote a personal letter letter to Donald Trump.
I know you will be the president of America, so can you please save the children and people of Syria? You must do something for the children of Syria because they are like your children and deserve peace like you.
If you promise me you will do something for the children of Syria, I am already your new friend.
I am looking forward to what you will do for the children of Syria.
Bana’s letter was covered by the BBC and other major news outlets.
The new star Bana is now in a position to issue ultimatums to the prospective president:
When Trump imposed a ban on immigration from seven Muslim countries, Bana was quick to respond. Again her views received worldwide attention.
Bana has also written to the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, begging for humanitarian aid for terrorist controlled areas. (In fact shortage of food and medicines is not usually the problem in al Nusra controlled areas, so much as the fact of the terrorists stockpiling supplies and withholding them from residents.)
A Nobel Peace Prize for Bana?
— Charles Shoebridge (@ShoebridgeC) January 1, 2017
In view of the political activism, the meeting with a Nobel Peace Laureate may have had more significance than simply getting another celebrity to sponsor the Bana project. Devoted Bana fan Alex Verkeek has suggested that Bana could be compared with Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani activist for female education who became at 17 the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. For the Nobel Prize to be awarded to, say, an eight or nine-year old, on the basis of her tweeting on behalf of bloody intervention, would be quite a coup for her handlers.
In 2016 the fake humanitarian propaganda outfit the White Helmets, with close ties to ISIS, al Nusra and al Zinki, were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, despite the evidence that they are everything to do with propaganda and terrorism and nothing to do with helping people. There is no reason why the fraudulent Bana account should not be even more successful. Should the Bana account achieve ‘peace’ in the form of a jihadi emirate in Idlib under UN protection, providing a permanent base from which to launch terrorist attacks on Syria, the campaign for a Nobel Prize will be virtually unstoppable.
Bana as symbol: Anne Frank; Madonna; the Crucified Christ
Bana’s initial twitter profile picture was designed to be evocative of Anne Frank, and this has not escaped commentators, e.g. Caitlin Gibson in the Washington Post: How a 7-year-old Aleppo girl on Twitter became our era’s Anne Frank, or the NY Times’ Nicholas Kristof, Anne Frank Today Is a Syrian Girl. Another was ‘diplomat’ Alex Verkeek, who sets out in full the rationale for the Anne Frank comparison, Bana Alabed, the girl that tweeted from Aleppo, is safe! .
The Bana Project has further reinforced the identity with Anne Frank, projecting Bana as a fellow influential female writer, a truth teller.
Verkeek acknowledges that new comparisons will be made – in fact they already have, as images have appeared of Bana evoking the Virgin Mary:
and the Crucifixion, from the beautifully produced TDV KAGEM video .
Whether or not the crucifixion imagery is intended, it is certainly apt, and not because Bana has taken on the sufferings of Syrian children.
Bana is now the most powerful symbol of child abuse from the Syrian war.
The exploitation of children in order to justify war must always be distasteful. In the case of Bana she is going though something like the Hollywood star system, but where she is obliged to lie and dissemble for political purposes. At the same time, her family will be well paid for her and their efforts. One can hardly imagine a more corrupting situation for a young child.
The concern for Bana’s own welfare, the sporadic mutterings in social media about child abuse, have grown to a crescendo.
— Peggy Breckin (@bickypeg) March 10, 2017
Bana gives the impression of being increasingly stressed, as in this recent appeal to Donald Trump.
— Charles Shoebridge (@ShoebridgeC) March 13, 2017
Child exploitation scored a double hit when Bana and Abdulbasit were introduced. Abdulbasit found fame after allegedly having had his legs blown off by a barrel bomb. Whether or not the boy has actually had his legs amputated at some stage, the story is deeply flawed, as the scene showed in the video and photographs provided is impossible medically, and otherwise inconceivable, with at least two cameramen operating, and two different fathers shown tugging at the boy.
Bana, who has recorded no response to tragedies occurring in areas under the Syrian government, was apparently shattered by the suffering of a fellow little jihadi.
Lucky Abdulbasit was now Bana’s new best friend, and received a visit in hospital from the little media star. Bana’s mother directed the performance:
Bana’s association with Abdulbasit, on top of the discrepancies in her own story, should put paid to any credibility, while at the same time highlighting the exploitation of both children.
The complicity of the media
Given that UNICEF in the person of Justin Forsyth, along with various celebrities, is prepared to condone both the fraud and the abuse of Bana Alabed, , it is no surprise that the media have closed eyes and ears to any discrepancies in the saga.
The truth about Bana, and the impossibility that she should have anything to do with the account run in her name, must be inescapable to anyone who has actually met her. Correspondents from organs of the media, however, such as CNN (A day with Bana, the Syrian girl who gave a voice to Aleppo, 8 February), and the Financial Times Seven-year-old Bana al-Abed, the ‘face of Aleppo’, 10 March, give no indication that the paucity of Bana’s spoken English contradicts the fluency of her tweeting.
What is most shocking is the role of experienced BBC correspondent Orla Guerin, well-known to viewers of BBC World for her reports from the Middle East. She flew out to interview Bana for the BBC.
Guerin wisely chose to allow Bana to speak in Arabic for the bulk of the interview, though it appears she asked questions in English. One can see Fatemah prompting Bana throughout, including the suggestion to finish with ‘we shall overcome some day’. Bana’s lack of ability in English, the fraud, the artificiality of the created Bana persona, should have been very apparent to Guerin, but she has chosen to play along with the charade.
Moreover Guerin is undisturbed by the manipulation and exploitation of Bana, and the likely harm being done to the child by the unhealthy star treatment, the playacting, and the wasted time spent pretending both to be fluent in a language she has almost no knowledge of and to be interested in matters beyond her years.
There is a moral consistency here. The corporate media have heavily promoted hoaxes such as the White Helmets and Bana which are designed to gain acceptance for a no-fly zone and the destruction of Syria. It should come as no surprise that for media intent on an outcome that will destroy the lives of millions, damaging one small Syrian girl is a small price to pay, in order to achieve that end.
Qoppa, Unravelling Bana
Bana Alabed, Wikipedia
Syrian Girl’s story of two Syrian boys, Omran and Abdullah